Every American, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves equal protection, dignity and the right to pursue a life that is happy, meaningful and fulfilling. But LGBTQ+ Americans are increasingly finding themselves under attack by legislators who seek to use their basic human rights as a cultural wedge issue. Vulnerable children are frequent targets for these attacks. These assaults on the right of LGBTQ+ Americans to live their lives are offensive, harmful, and dangerous: they must end.
That’s why Josh supports immediate passage of the Equality Act, a comprehensive piece of legislation that would codify protections for sexual orientation and gender identity into every aspect of federal law. The effects of the Equality Act would be far-reaching: the bill would guarantee equal protection in employment, housing, credit, education, access to public space, access to federally funded programs and jury service. The Equality Act would also amend the 1963 Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination in public spaces and services on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. It would prevent workers from being fired on the basis of their LGBTQ+ status, would provide federal protection for children and their families as they face down attacks from state-level elected officials and school boards, and would protect marriage rights at the federal level to ensure that those basic human rights are not left solely to the discretion of the Supreme Court.
We can also codify some other significant protections for LGBTQ+ Americans, such as:
- Passing the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which requires every state that receives federal Title IV funds to use evidence-based best practices to prevent and respond to bullying and harassment. This act protects all students, but specifically enumerates protection on the grounds of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and religion.
- Using the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce existing laws protecting LGBTQ+ workers from discrimination and harassment.
- Prohibiting public child welfare agencies that receive federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Prohibiting federal criminal defendants from asserting “gay/trans panic” as a defense at trial. This has been used as a tactic to blame a defendant’s’ violent conduct on the victim’s sexual orientation and/or gender expression. It is outlawed at the state level in many jurisdictions but is not currently prohibited in federal court.
- Collecting better data and supporting research on the economic well-being of LGBTQ+ Americans in order to better target potential interventions.