LGBTQ orgs welcome Equality Act filing
LGBTQ organizations, both in Illinois and nationally, were thrilled with congressional Democrats resubmitting the Equality Act on Thursday.
The act, if passed by both houses and signed by President Joe Biden, would give LGBTQ people nationally protections against discrimination in services, accommodations and employment. Currently, only 27 states have explicit protections for LGBTQ people. Illinois passed a law with the protections in 2005.
“LGBTQIA+ citizens who live in Illinois enjoy equitable and inclusive legal protections to a degree that residents of many other states do not,” said Dave Bentlin of Bloomington’s Prairie Pride Coalition. “It is time for a federal law that covers our LGBTQIA+ community in all 50 states and ensures uniform fairness, equity, and safety for all of us.”
Tara Bell, interim board chair with Carbondale’s Rainbow Cafe LGBT Youth Center, said the organization was pleased to see the reintroduction.
“We are none of us equal until we are all equal, and we have faith in Senators [Dick] Durbin and [Tammy] Duckworth to continue to fight for the LGBTQ community across the United States to secure these same rights we are guaranteed here in Illinois,” Bell said.
National organizations also celebrated the news.
“Today’s reintroduction of the Equality Act by a broad coalition in Congress starts to carve a clear path to LGBTQ equality and marks a new day for our country,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, executive director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). “The harsh reality is that current anti-discrimination protections fall far short of protecting everyone in our communities, leaving behind LGBTQ people and people of color who continue to face disproportionate discrimination in nearly every aspect of their lives.”
“Coupled with President Biden’s early action applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County to all federal laws currently prohibiting sex discrimination, we can see true equality on the horizon,” said Lambda Legal CEO Kevin Jennings. “And it can’t happen soon enough: the LGBTQ community has been asking Congress for protections since Reps. Bella Abzug and Ed Koch first introduced the Equality Act of 1974, 47 years ago, and nearly fifty years of waiting is long enough.”
“The Equality Act would provide clear and consistent federal protections for LGBTQ+/SGL people, but it’s critical to underscore that the bill also offers important protections for Black people, women, and members of other marginalized, stigmatized communities, including poor white people,” said David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). “The Equality Act is a bill for us all: It is designed to ensure that everyone in this country is treated with respect, dignity, and equality, regardless of who we are or how we show up in the world.”
The act was passed by the House in 2019, but was blocked by the U.S. Senate.