The Equality Act: What It Is and Why We Need It

November 18, 2015

Here at Ben & Jerry’s, we believe in making the finest quality ice cream full of wholesome ingredients. We also believe in helping to make the world a better place. It’s why we threw our support behind the Supreme Court’s ruling that love is love, and why we’re now backing the Equality Act.

woody-scene-with-justice-779x400.jpg (caring dairy picket)

What is the Equality Act?

If we were to describe the Equality Act in one word, it would be “Equality”. Although we’re pretty sure you guessed that, so we’re going to go a little deeper into our explanation.

The bill was written to protect people against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It states that no person can lawfully be denied a job or a place to live because of whom they love or how they present themselves to the world. They also can’t be banned from public parks and plazas, refused a loan, barred from school or banned from participating in our judicial system.

As Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley said, “The Equality Act will bring us another significant step forward in our nation’s long march toward inclusion and equality.”


Why We Need the Equality Act

On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. Even though all 50 states must issue marriage certificates and recognize those unions, 31 states still lack clear protections for LGBT people. Someone can be married one day and fired or denied public services the next. Just look at these 3 real-life stories:

  1. In 2010, Katrina Martir made plans to adopt and raise a child with her wife. She shared the news with her principal and was promptly fired. Kentucky law said there was nothing illegal about firing someone for being gay.
  2. Luke Peterson landed a job at a Nebraska wine shop while still a senior in college. He worked there for 9 months, but the day after his boyfriend popped in for a visit he was told to skip his next shift. He was never given another.
  3. Carter Brown is a real estate professional who was earning a six-figure-salary after receiving three promotions in two years. Then a coworker outed him as transgender. Carter was harassed by colleagues and eventually fired. Texas lacks LGBT non-discrimination protections, so there was nothing he could do.


Who Supports the Equality Act?

Ben & Jerry’s supports the Equality Act, and so do a number of other businesses that you probably interact with on a daily basis. We’re also joined by a number of your fellow Americans. A recent survey from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research shows that 78% of voters support protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination. That’s a pretty convincing majority.


Keep the Ball Rolling

Marriage equality was an important first step, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity still exists in 31 states. Together we can encourage the government to step in and right that wrong.

No one should be fired, evicted, denied access or refused basic services because of who they are or whom they love. And they definitely deserve a fair shake in the workplace. Take action today to break the cycle of discrimination and help solidify LGBT rights across the country.