Marriage can be a lightning bolt. One day you’re living the single life, happily cohabitating with two roomates and a dog. The next thing you know, you’re struck with wedded bliss and a partner for life. Transformations of this nature, of course, became all-inclusive when on June 26, 2015 same-sex couples nationwide won the right to tie the knot—now and forever.
But the equality-for-all story doesn’t end at happily ever after. And hitched or not, LGBT people across most states can still be fired from their jobs solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s not right.
Here’s the Scoop—
The Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, reports that only 18 states fully protect LGBT workers. Another 13 have spotty protections, either protecting only public employees, or protecting only discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity. For the remainder of US states, there are no protections in place.
There is, however, a catalyst for headway and it exists in the Equality Act, which if passed into federal law would provide protections for LGBT people in areas of employment, housing, education, credit and more.
The legislation, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in July, extends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to protections that already exist based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Hailed as an important next step for LGBT rights, Ted Olson and David Boies—the politically polar-opposite lawyers who combined forces to fight California’s Proposition 8—endorsed the act, noting the unprecedented opportunity to unscramble a “crazy quilt of laws” via a “comprehensive approach to non-discrimination protections.”
Businesses are joining the conversation, too, with statements about how diversity and equality in the workplace is better for everyone. We couldn’t agree more.
The upholding of same-sex marriage rights sent a clear-cut message across the nation: that now is the time for progressive change. Riding that momentum, and harnessing it for systematic, sensible reform, Ben & Jerry’s supports the Equality Act because it would provide transparent, impartial protections to all LGBT working Americans.
No one should be fired, evicted, or refused basic services because of who they are or whom they love. And everyone deserves a fair shake in the workplace—based on performance, and untainted by questions of gender identity and sexual orientation. Take action today to break the cycle of discrimination and help solidify LGBT rights across all states.