Today, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) declared his official support for the Equality Act. Senator Nelson will become the 43rd senator to cosponsor the legislation, in addition to 178 members of the House.
The bipartisan Equality Act would provide consistent and explicit non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity across key areas of life, including employment, housing, federally funded programs, public spaces and services, education, credit, and jury service.
Even after a marriage victory at the Supreme Court, in most states in this country — including Florida, a couple who gets married at 10 a.m. remains at risk of being fired from their jobs by noon and evicted from their home by 2 p.m. for just trying to live their life openly and honestly. Current laws leave millions of LGBTQ people subject to fear of discrimination that impacts their safety, their family, and their very way of life.
America’s civil rights laws protect people on the basis of race, color and national origin and in most cases, sex, disability and religion. However, federal law does not provide explicit non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The need for the Equality Act is clear. Polling released by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute showed support for a bill like the Equality Act topped 70 percent, which includes a majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
The legislation enjoys strong support from business. The Business Coalition for the Equality Act has now grown to 84 major corporations that are urging Congress to enact these critical protections.
The mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, three months ago, is a stark reminder of the persistent threat of discrimination faced by LGBTQ people in Florida and in communities across the country. In the aftermath of the tragedy at Pulse, Senator Nelson stood tall and proud with the victims and survivors and joins HRC in calling on Congress to establish protections for LGBTQ people in all fifty states through the Equality Act.
Every American deserves to live free from the fear of discrimination — no matter who they are, where they live, or whom they love.
HRC applauds Senator Nelson’s leadership and will continue to work with Members of Congress to increase support for full federal LGBTQ equality.