Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals continue to struggle as Americans to fully participate in society. Take for instance, individuals can now legally marry their same-sex partner on Sunday in all 50 states but then legally be fired from their jobs on Monday simply for exercising that right. In the U.S. it is still legal in 29 states to fire, refuse housing, or deny services to Americans because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. No federal law explicitly protects LGBT people from discrimination.
This week marks the introduction of the Equality Act in Congress, a comprehensive bill that would, if passed, add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the protections that already exist based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. The legislation, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is an update to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that increases its protections for many Americans beyond the LGBT community as well.
“Civil rights can only be measured by a single yardstick and our nation’s blunt denial of basic protections to LGBT Americans—in housing, credit, education, employment, and public accommodations—can no longer be tolerated,” states Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The LGBT community has gotten only piecemeal solutions to their second-class citizenship—like marriage equality, coverage under hate crimes legislation, and open participation in military service—and we stand united in agreement that the time for comprehensive federal LGBT civil rights protections is now,” he adds.
On Thursday, three major American companies announced their support for comprehensive federal non-discrimination legislation that would establish full, federal equality for all LGBT Americans. Each of the leading corporations—which include Apple, The Dow Chemical Co., and Levi Strauss & Co released statements making clear that they believe all LGBT Americans should have the protections from discrimination in federal law that they deserve.
STATEMENT BY APPLE – “At Apple we believe in equal treatment for everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. We fully support the expansion of legal protections as a matter of basic human dignity.”
STATEMENT BY THE DOW CHEMICAL CO. – “Dow applauds the introduction of the Equality Act and continues to support a comprehensive federal framework that ensures fairness and opportunity for everyone. Full inclusion of our LGBT colleagues and citizens is quite simply the right thing to do—for business and for society.”
STATEMENT BY LEVI STRAUSS & CO. – “Levi Strauss & Co. is proud to support the Equality Act. We have a long history of supporting LGBT equality, and the time has come in this country for full, federal equality for the LGBT community. Ensuring fairness in our workplaces and communities is both the right thing to do and simply good business.”
Each of the three major companies scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index, a nationally recognized benchmark of LGBT inclusion in the workplace, and were recognized on HRC’s list of Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality in 2015.
Earlier this year, more than 120 prominent leaders in the tech industry called on “legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.”
The results of a new Democracy Corps survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research released yesterday indicates that support for non-discrimination legislation unites the country. Nearly 64% of likely Republican voters support protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, as do 90% of Democrats. Similarly, this legislation draws impressive majorities of support among college and non-college voters, at 84% and 73% respectively as well as younger, 85% and older voters, 75%. What’s more, observant Christians support non-discriminatory legislation at 70%.
In March, polling conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Human Rights Campaign revealed that nearly two-thirds of LGBT Americans, 63%, have faced discrimination in their lives, with LGBT people reporting workplace discrimination as the most frequently experienced form of discrimination.