Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow same-sex marriage nationwide, LGBT Americans still lack explicit protections in federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Here in Texas, LGBT couples can now legally marry. But they are still at risk of being fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes or denied services because of whom they love. At the same time, Transgender Texans confront severe and pervasive discrimination that affects their daily lives.
We can’t expect any action at the state level any time soon -- the Texas State Legislature doesn’t even meet again until January 2017! But federal level protections can and should be put in place that would ensure that individuals couldn’t be fired, denied housing, or refused service based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Last week, the Equality Act was introduced in both houses of the US Congress. This legislation would extend Federal-level civil rights protections to include LGBT people. And HRC is fighting to pass the Equality Act.
This legislation has a strong foundation. In addition to being the right thing to do, it also has the support of the American people. A survey of likely 2016 voters showed that 67% support a federal non-discrimination law. That support transcends party lines with 51% of Republicans, 72% of Independents and 80% of Democrats expressing their support.
It is time for comprehensive legislation that provides full equality for all LGBT Americans. We must continue to fight at the state and local levels to end anti-LGBT discrimination. Everyone in this country should have a fair chance to earn a living and provide for their families, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
With your continued support and dedication, we will someday celebrate full federal equality in the country from coast to coast. And even here in Texas!