Reintroduced Equality Act Gets Support From Businesses, Associations

Among the supporters of the just-reintroduced Equality Act: trade and professional associations and a 164-member business coalition.

The Equality Act, a proposed law that would ensure federal protections for LGBTQ individuals, was first introduced in 1974. But 45 years later, it has yet to pass a chamber of Congress.

However, the bill, which was reintroduced by both the House and Senate on Wednesday, could have momentum on its side thanks to support it’s receiving from both businesses and associations.

Last week, the Human Rights Campaign announced that 164 major companies joined its Business Coalition for the Equality Act—firms that it says represent $3.7 trillion in combined revenue and have headquarters in 27 different states.

The coalition includes some of the best known and largest companies in the world. Among them: Google, Amazon, Apple, Nike, General Mills, Hilton, and Marriott.

In a news release, HRC President Chad Griffin stated that the broad support represented “a loud and clear message that the time has come for full federal equality.”

“By standing with the LGBTQ community and joining the fight to pass the Equality Act, these companies are demanding full federal equality for the more than 11 million LGBTQ people in this country who deserve to earn a living, raise their families and live their lives free from discrimination,” Griffin said. “These leading employers know that protecting their employees and customers from discrimination isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s also good for business.”

Business are not alone in backing the bill. This week, ASAE joined 43 other trade and professional groups in a letter [PDF] showing support for the Equality Act.

“We believe an appropriately-tailored federal standard would complement our members’ ongoing work to promote equal opportunity in the workplace,” the letter said. “Our members recognize the value of equal opportunity because it enables them to attract and retain the most talented employees.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who is lead sponsor of the bill, says it is intended to protect people who may face discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

“In most states in this country, a gay couple can be married on Saturday, post their wedding photos to Instagram on Sunday, and lose their jobs or get kicked out of their apartments on Monday just because of who they are,” Cicilline said in comments to NBC News. “This is wrong. We are reintroducing the Equality Act in order to fix this.”

While the bill faces tougher odds in the Senate and possibly with President Donald Trump, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce Cofounder and CEO Chance Mitchell said its passage could also convince some LGBTQ individuals to start a business.

“A level playing field ensures that merit is the only factor that allows someone to succeed in business,” Mitchell recently told CNBC. “Think of the endless opportunities to contribute to the economy that await the LGBT business community when they are no longer afraid of being fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, denied service in restaurants and shops simply for being who they are.”

(MysteryShot/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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