Since Trump came to power, equality legislation in the US hit a barrier of opposition. But today things are looking up as around 400 companies are calling on US lawmakers to pass an important LGBT+ rights bill that would extend protections to against discrimination when it comes to healthcare, housing, goods and services rights.
Some 416 companies, including tech giants Twitter, Facebook and Amazon are pushing for the upper house Senate to pass the legislation. If passed, it would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the identities listed for protection against discrimination, alongside race, religion, sex and national origin.
“Employers care about their employees’ ability to rent an apartment, send their kids to school, visit the dentist, and pick up the groceries free from discrimination,” said Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the LGBT+ advocacy group leading the Business Coalition for the Equality Act.
“We’re asking corporations to engage with members of Congress specifically on the importance of the Equality Act and how not having the Equality Act actually affects their businesses,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Together, we elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, won the Georgia runoffs and achieved pro-equality majorities in the House and Senate. Now we’re going to pass the Equality Act through Congress and ensure protections for LGBTQ people nationwide,” HRC stated on their website.
Legislating for equality
The lower house of Congress first passed the bill in 2019, but the Republican-controlled Senate stalled on passing it in the upper house Senate during the Trump administration. After the Democrats won control of the Senate in November, the businesses hope to encourage the adoption of the new Equality Act.
To make the act law requires 60 votes in the Senate, where there is a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans. They have yet to announce a date for the vote.
Opposition has been voiced from among the Republicans, including Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. He said he would oppose the act unless senators added a provision giving “strong religious liberty protections”.
Evidence so far suggests that the public generally support the legislation, with 70 per cent of 1,005 voters surveyed supporting the aims of the Equality Act in a March poll by Hart Research Associates.
“We … believe that equal protections should extend beyond an employer’s four walls,” Carla Grant Pickens, chief diversity and inclusion officer at tech company IBM, part of HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act, said in a statement.
“It’s time that civil rights protections be extended to LGBT+ individuals nationwide on a clear, consistent, and comprehensive basis.”
A campaign for all
For the last 40 years, HRC has been working towards equality across the US. But despite their efforts many groups of people remain marginalised and discriminated against. Their current goal is to ensure that all LGBT+ people, particularly those who are trans, people of color and HIV positive, gain equal treatment in law.
If you are an American citizen wishing to support the act, there are various ways you can help. These include becoming a co-sponsor by texting COSPONSOR to 472472, and calling or emailing your Member of Congress to ask them to support the bill.
Find more information here.
Support HRC by donating here.