LGBTQ people suffer pervasive discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation, education, in their places of worship, medical care and otherwise in every aspect of their lives because of a lack of strong legal protections. Our community needs to have equal access to the same opportunities, benefits and protections granted to everyone else, including the ability to work in an environment where people are judged by their job performance, not their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In every corner of our nation, the vast majority of people believe discrimination is wrong. Yet in over 30 states, it’s still legal for employers to discriminate against LGBTQ employees. You can be married on Saturday and be fired on Monday because you identify or are identified as LGBTQ.
Less than 20 states and D.C. currently prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for all residents, including state employees. And an additional three ban discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual employees, but not against transgender and gender non-conforming workers. Eight states provide protections only to state employees, but three of them exclude transgender workers.
This is the world we live in — it doesn’t have to stay this way.
For decades, the National LGBTQ Task Force has been advocating for employment nondiscrimination. In 1975, we were instrumental to introducing the first comprehensive nondiscrimination bill in Congress. We pushed hard for protections in the states, through the courts, and through important agency rulings. We advocated at the federal level for the President to take executive actions to provide more protections for both federal employees and the employees of federal contractors. We even withdrew our support for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act — when others were prepared to compromise — because there was an overly broad religious exemption that would have defeated the main purpose of the bill.
Today, we’re fighting to secure strong and explicit protections in Congress and with the administration for LGBTQ people in the work place, housing, education, and so many other areas where they face discrimination every day of their lives. This wouldn’t solve every problem facing our community, but it’d be an enormous step toward eliminating discrimination at work and at home.