Lawmakers Must Make Comprehensive LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Protections a Priority
With the reintroduction of the Equality Act by Congressman David Cicilline and colleagues in the in the U.S. House of Representatives today, SAGE calls on Congress to swiftly pass this vital civil rights legislation.
“Enacting the Equality Act is long overdue. LGBTQ older people cannot wait any longer for nationwide, comprehensive nondiscrimination protections,” said Michael Adams, SAGE CEO. “Across the country, LGBTQ people, allies, business owners, and faith leaders have all been making their support for the Equality Act known. LGBTQ elders should be able to seek out the support and services they need without fear of receiving inadequate care or being turned away. At the end of the day, these protections should extend to every American, including the resilient LGBTQ pioneers that have been facing this discrimination for decades.”
The Equality Act is a landmark nondiscrimination and civil rights bill that would update existing federal laws to protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Discrimination is still commonplace for LGBTQ Americans, particularly impacting the lives of older LGBT people – especially in housing, long-term care and healthcare settings. Opponents of LGBTQ equality continue to file discriminatory bills in states across the country in an attempt to undermine existing protections in adoption, marriage and access to basic public services and businesses. The Equality Act would ensure that all LGBTQ Americans can live, work, and access public spaces free from discrimination, no matter what state they call home.
The Equality Act has broad and deep support across lines of political party, demographics, and geography, with 83 percent of Americans saying they favor LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, including 68 percent of Republicans and a majority in every state in the country.
“Even amidst a life-threatening pandemic, our community is forced to rely on inconsistent city-by-city, state-by-state protections for crucial aspects of life such as healthcare and housing,” said Randi Robertson, a SAGE constituent and transgender veteran living in Florida. “Those who choose to fight against the comprehensive protections of the Equality Act are on the wrong side of history. It’s time for Congress to act.”
Although 21 states and more than 330 cities have passed LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections, half of LGBTQ people live in the 29 states that still lack comprehensive statewide laws. From our local and state-based work in Florida, Illinois, New York, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia, we know firsthand that this patchwork of protections is unsustainable and leaves too many people behind.
In 2019, the Equality Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. It passed the House on May 17, 2019 with a bipartisan 236-173 vote. It was not heard in the Senate.
SAGE is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org.
We’re a national advocacy and services organization that’s been looking out for LGBT elders since 1978. We build welcoming communities and keep our issues in the national conversation to ensure a fulfilling future for all LGBT people.