For my teenage daughter and her friends, it is inconceivable that discrimination against LGBT people would still be allowed. In fact, her generation supports equality by a very large margin. Still, across America, we have a patchwork of laws that leave many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people vulnerable. Despite the wave of wins for the freedom to marry, 32 states still need to update or clarify their laws so that all of us are included, protected and equal. This is an urgent matter. We must all work together to make it happen.
As I travel to states from Oregon to Tennessee, people will ask me what is next for our movement. They ask me why it is important to have nondiscrimination laws that include our community. We know laws on their own won't make all discrimination disappear overnight, but what they will do is make it unquestionably clear to employers, housing providers, and caregivers that treating LGBT people differently is unfair and against the law. Having these basic protections in place not only helps prevent discrimination and provide recourse for those who are harmed, it also helps shift our culture toward a more just and fair society.
Clear, statewide nondiscrimination laws would have made it illegal for Crystal Moore, a respected cop in Latta, South Carolina, to be fired last year simply for being herself. With sustained community outcry and a painfully public and expensive fight, she got her job back, but no one should have to go through an ordeal like that. LGBT people are a part of the fabric of America; we're cops, bus drivers, doctors, neighbors and friends. And all of us, no matter who we are, should be able to live without the fear of being treated unfairly as we go about our daily lives providing for ourselves and our families.
Alaska, Alabama, Idaho, Montana, Virginia and West Virginia are among the many states across the country that are working to pass or update statewide nondiscrimination laws. In Florida, Missouri and Wyoming, state groups are working in coalition with business leaders to support their statewide nondiscrimination bills. In other states, such as North Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah, advocates are working to secure nondiscrimination protections at the local level through municipal ordinances. LGBT Texans are working to prevent a nondiscrimination ordinance in Houston from being overturned. Indeed, this work is happening in numerous states on multiple fronts.
Most Americans support nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. In fact, a majority of people polled are shocked when they discover that these protections do not already exist. We need your help to build awareness so that together we can create the kind of fair society all people should have.
Equality Federation, alongside 30+ state equality groups, has launched #DiscriminationExists, a nationwide education campaign to draw awareness to the urgent need for states to update their nondiscrimination laws.
Please help us spread the word about #DiscriminationExists on social media. Sample tweets, posts, and images are available at discriminationexists.org.