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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 11, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 37
OP-ED: Why I'm fighting for the Equality Act
Section One
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OP-ED: Why I'm fighting for the Equality Act

by Senator Patty Murray - Special to the SGN

This has been an incredible year for LGBT rights. The Supreme Court's decision in the marriage equality case was a truly historic moment in our country's history, and a victory for love and for equality. After decades of fighting for equal rights, LGBT Americans are finally guaranteed nationwide marriage equality and the protections and responsibilities that all married couples enjoy. Across the country, we have seen loving couples finally able to join in the bonds of marriage, and there has been an outpouring of support for the LGBT community.

As I have traveled around Washington this summer, it has been great to hear from people in our state about the progress we've made, and also to discuss the barriers that the LGBT community continues to face. I recently met with local LGBT small business owners in Seattle at Fuel Coffee, and one of the many topics we discussed was legislation I recently introduced to advance equality of LGBT Americans: the Equality Act.

As we have seen far too often, with every step forward there are some who want to take us back. There is simply no place for discrimination in our country, yet too many remain vulnerable to discrimination or harassment because of who they are, or who they love.

In a majority of states, an LGBT person can marry who they love in the morning and be fired from their job in the same afternoon. A building manager or landlord could deny a couple a place to live if they learn of their relationship. An LGBT person can still be denied the opportunity to secure credit, which is a critical step for many looking to buy a home, go to college, or start a small business. And, we've heard too many stories of couples being refused service in a restaurant or from those who could provide a cake or flowers for their wedding, including in Washington state. Some states have protected this prejudice under the guise of religious freedom, but it is nothing short of discrimination.

That is why I worked with my colleagues in Congress to introduce the Equality Act. This legislation would ensure equality for LGBT Americans by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal civil rights laws, and would ban discrimination in many areas such as employment, housing, public places, jury service, and access to credit.

I'm so proud that Washington state has worked to promote equality, but there is so much more work to do to ensure all Americans are protected and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is illegal. I know getting this legislation passed won't be easy, nothing in Congress ever is, but I am going to continue to fight to ensure equality for all.

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OP-ED: Why I'm fighting for the Equality Act
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