Today, over 150 LGBTQ Community Centers sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urging Congress to pass H.R. 5, the Equality Act. The letter, signed by 151 centers from 40 states across the nation, DC and Puerto Rico, was organized by Center Action Network (CAN) — a division of CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers.
The Equality Act would provide consistent federal non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in all aspects of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, federally funded programs, public spaces, and jury service. It would amend current civil right laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community and strengthen non-discrimination protections for women and other minorities. The letter and signatories can be found here.
“Centers around the nation are the bedrocks and the hearts of their communities — and often the line of first defense for those who have faced real and persistent discrimination because they are LGBTQ. The centers that have signed this letter help thousands of LGBTQ Americans every single day — many of these folks have no other resources or protections available to them. In a majority of states, the people we serve are at risk of being fired, denied housing, or turned away from a business because of who they are and who they love,” said CenterLink Chief Executive Officer, Lora L. Tucker. “Congress must act and pass these protections now so that LGBTQ people from coast to coast are free to live authentically in any state or zip code they call home.”
Despite improved federal laws, discrimination continues to be a problem for LGBTQ people across the country. Nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ Americans report having experienced discrimination in their everyday lives. In 30 states, LGBTQ people are at risk of being fired, refused housing, denied a home loan, or being turned away from a business simply because of who they are.
LGBTQ community centers serve 40,550 people every week. Many operate in areas where there are no other LGBTQ resources and work with a limited staff and budget. Yet 79% of centers spend time referring clients to LGBTQ-friendly businesses, 33% offer employment counseling or training, and 66% assist clients in finding LGBTQ-friendly attorneys. For decades, community centers have been working with and for the LGBTQ community to fight discrimination. With passage of the Equality Act, community centers will finally have federal protections in place to assist them as they advocate for their constituents and work toward lived equality.
If you are interested in learning how to lobby and advocate for passage of the Equality Act, you may send a letter of support to Congress HERE and Centerlink has created an advocacy toolkit you may access HERE.