Five Ways the Equality Act Expands Opportunity for All

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first hearing on the Equality Act, bipartisan legislation that would establish comprehensive nationwide protections for LGBTQ people in key areas of life. While this has been a priority for the LGBTQ movement for nearly 50 years, the bill would also expand protections for many other groups, including women, people of minority faiths, and people of color.

1) It provides critical tools to address widespread anti-LGBTQ discrimination. More than 1 in 3 LGBTQ people, including 62% of transgender people and 43% of LGBTQ people of color, experienced discrimination in the past year. The Equality Act clearly protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in public places and services, federally funded programs, housing, employment, credit, and jury service.

2) It protects people of color from discrimination in stores and in cabs. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, it only prohibited discrimination in 4 areas of public accommodation: hotels, inns, motels, or similar lodging; restaurants; entertainment spaces like movie theaters or sports arenas; and any place physically located within those spaces. Times have changed and the ways people experience discrimination in public has changed. The Equality Act would ensure retail stores, rideshares and cabs, banks, hair salons, and other public places and spaces — both physical and online — can’t discriminate against people because of the color of their skin or their national origin.

3) It protects women from being charged different prices for the same services. Why should women and men be charged different prices for the exact same haircut or car repair? By adding sex to the groups protected from discrimination in public places and spaces, the Equality Act would make this type of discriminatory treatment illegal.

4) It ensures taxpayer dollars don’t fund discrimination against women. The federal government provides billions of dollars in critical public services and programs, like food assistance, disaster assistance, job training, and many other programs people rely on. The Equality Act would protect women from discrimination in these vital federal services and programs.

5) It protects people of minority faiths from service refusals. Not only does the Equality Act preserve existing protections for religious freedom in civil rights laws, it expands protections making it illegal for stores and other services that are open to the public to discriminate against someone wearing a yarmulke or put up a sign saying “No Muslims.”

For more, check out Why We All Need the Equality Act and join the movement to turn this important legislation into law because our laws should treat everyone fairly, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religion, race, or national origin.

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