The New Equality Act: Every Great Company Should Step Up Now and Support this Legislation

A recent LGBT victory in the US Supreme Court brought marriage equality to every state in our nation. But it still comes as news to many Americans that if you are gay, you can still be fired in many jurisdictions in this country. Gaining such protection has eluded the LGBT community for decades. So, now that we can marry, we can still be fired if we display the wedding pictures on our desk.

Thirty-one (31) states still lack fully inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Recently, the new federal Equality Act was introduced in Congress by Senators Jeff Merkley, Tammy Baldwin, and Cory Booker; and Representatives David Cicilline and John Lewis. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the bill:

... establishes explicit, permanent protections against discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. In addition, it would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federal funding and access to public places.

Voters overwhelmingly support these basic protections for LGBT Americans. According to recent polling released by HRC, 78 percent of likely voters support workplace non-discrimination protections. This includes support from 90 percent of likely Democratic voters, two-thirds (64 percent) of likely Republican voters, and 70 percent of observant Christians. Moreover, nearly 60 percent of voters are less likely to support a candidate who doesn't support such protections for LGBT people, including 61 percent of Independent voters and 58 percent of Catholic voters. (HRC, August 2015.)

In the overall journey to achieve basic civil rights for LGBT Americans, Corporate America has been an unlikely hero. The Fortune 1000, as well as many other institutions, have implemented various aspects of LGBT workplace non-discrimination policies at a breathtaking speed over the past couple of decades. However, despite such progress, the policies vary from company to company and do not provide uniform baseline protection for LGBT workers.

Last week, Intel Corporation joined a growing number of American companies (including Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Facebook, General Electric, General Mills, Google, HP, IBM, Levi Strauss & Co, Microsoft, Nike, Oracle, Orbitz, Symantec Corporation and the Dow Chemical Company) in support of the Equality Act. While this is a good start, this list is dwarfed by the hundreds of companies that have achieved high scores on the HRC Corporate Equality Index. Supporting the Equality Act should be a simple matter for most corporate government affairs department. It is simply making manifest a standard many of the best corporation in this country have adopted long ago.

In the case of Windsor vs. United States, hundreds of companies signed on to an Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court of Windsor vs. the United States, a case that struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. If companies can support striking down an oppressive federal law, surely they can support erecting a fair one. (Listed below are the companies, law firms, municipalities and other institutions that signed onto that amicus brief.)

The sooner these and hundreds more companies get on board, the faster this common sense legislation can be passed. And when Congress passes the Equality Act, it will finally join the 20th Century in promoting the best in workplace practices.

*Entities that signed on to Amicus Brief:

Addis Creson
Adobe Systems Inc.
Aetna Inc.
Aggregate Supply
Akamai Technologies, Inc.
Alaska Air Group, Inc.
Alaska Airlines
Alcoa Inc.
Alere Inc., Inc.
American International Group, Inc. (AIG)
Ameristar Casinos, Inc.
Apple Inc.
AppNexus Inc.
ARC Design
Artify, Inc.
Avanade Inc.
A|X Armani Exchange, LLC
Bain & Company, Inc.
The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation
(BNY Mellon)
Bankers Trust Co.
Big Duck Studio, Inc.
Bigelow Villa LLC
Biogen Idec, Inc.
BlackRock, Inc.
Blu Homes, Inc.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc.
Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corporation
Borrego Solar Systems Inc.
Boston Community Capital, Inc.
The Boston Foundation
Boston Medical Center Corporation
Boston Scientific Corporation
The Bridgespan Group
Broadcom Corporation
Caesars Entertainment Corporation
Car Toys, Inc.
CBS Corporation
Central Physical Therapy and Fitness, Inc.
Chang Consulting
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Citigroup Inc.
City Catering Company
City Lites Neon, Inc.
Clean Yield Asset Management
Commune Hotels & Resorts
Conlin Properties, Inc.
The Corcoran Group Inc.
Crazy Misfits Pet Services
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC
Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Inc.
David Kosar Insurance Agency
Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc.
Deutsche Bank AG
Diageo North America, Inc.
Distinguished Gay Men
DML Insurance Services, Inc.
Dry Creek Vineyard
DRY Soda Co.
Eastern Bank Corporation
eBay Inc.
Eldercare Consulting
Electronic Arts Inc.
EMC Corporation
EnduringHydro, LLC
Ernst & Young LLP
Exelon Corporation
Facebook, Inc.
Firefly Creative Co.
500 BC, Inc.
Flanery CPA
The Forward Motion Group, LLC
Full Court Press Communications
Gammelgården, LLC
Gardenworks Inc.
Geolo Capital, Inc.
Gilt Groupe Holdings, Inc.
Go Factory, LLC
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Google Inc.
Grossman Marketing Group
Group Health Cooperative
Hafner Vineyard
Harrell Remodeling
Holdredge Wines
Homeward Pet Adoption Center
Horizon Air Industries, Inc.
ID Financial, LLC
Inspirato, LLC
Integrated Archive Systems, Inc.
Intel Corporation
Intuit Inc.
Jackson Hole Group LLC
James D. Wood, DDS Family Dental Care
Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
JetBlue Airways Corporation
The Jim Henson Company
Johnson & Johnson
Jo-Lynn Otto Photography
JTracz Designs LLC
Kemp Goldberg Partners
Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group, LLC
Kinzer Real Estate
Kollmar Sheet Metal Works, Inc.
Kotzan Chiropractic
Laparoscopic Institute for Gynecologic Oncology
Larson Marketing & Communications LLC
Levi Strauss & Co.
Liberty Mutual Group Inc.
Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge Trust, LLC
M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates, Inc.
Marriott International, Inc.
Mars, Incorporated
Marsh & McLennan Companies
Massachusetts Association of Health Plans
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
The McGraw-Hill Companies
McKinstry Co.
Microsoft Corporation
Moody's Corporation
Morgan Stanley
Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc.
MultiPlan, Inc.
Neumann Capital Management, LLC
New York Life Insurance Company
NIKE, Inc.
The Ogilvy Group, Inc.
The Olivia Companies, LLC
1 Source Consulting Solutions
Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Oracle America, Inc.
Orbitz Worldwide
Partners HealthCare System, Inc.
Paul's Draperies, Inc.
Pfizer Inc.
Pierson Labs
Planet Fitness
Precision Door Service
The PrintingWorks
Prior Construction
Pro-Tec Data, Inc.
ProTrials Research, Inc.
Puma Spring Vineyards
Qualcomm Incorporated
Ray Holley Communications
Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)
Reproductive Science Center of New England,
Resource Systems Group, Inc. (RSG)
Rising Tide Brewing Company
RLL Consulting & Advocacy, LLC
Rocket Science Associates
Rural Communications Service Corporation, Inc.
Seabold International Services LLC
Seattle Hospitality Group LLC
The Seattle Lesbian, LLC
Shawmut Design and Construction
Silicon Valley Progressive Faith Community
Sing Out Louise! Productions
Smith & Quinn LLC
Solutions Wealth Management, LLC
Starbucks Corporation
State Street Corporation
Stone Way Eateries, LLC
Stonyfield Farm, Inc.
Stuffed Cakes, LLC
Sun Life Financial (U.S.) Service
Stonyfield Farm, Inc.
Stuffed Cakes, LLC
Sun Life Financial (U.S.) Services Company, Inc.
Taber Food Services, Inc.
Thomson Reuters
Total Awareness Accounting Services
Total Home Improvement Inc.
Transparent Language, Inc.
Twitter, Inc.
206 Inc.
U.S. Balloon Co.
The Ultimate Software Group, Inc.
Unigo LLC
VCB Consulting & Accounting Services
Velsch Unlimited LLC
Verity Credit Union
Viacom Inc.
VitalSource Staffing, LLC
Vulcan Inc.
W/S Development Associates LLC
Walt Disney Company
Wasserman Media Group
Windows Management Experts, Inc.
Witeck Communications, Inc.
Xerox Corporation
Zynga Inc.
Law and professional firms:
A.L. Nella & Company, LLP, CPAs
Axcel Law Partners LLP
Baker & McKenzie LLP
Burns & Levinson LLP
Choate Hall & Stewart LLP
Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C.
DLK Law Group, P.C.
Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP
Farella Braun + Martel, LLP
Fenwick & West LLP
Goulston & Storrs, P.C.
Grippo & Elden LLC
Heath-Newton LLP
Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
Integrity Law Group
Jennifer Brown Consulting
Jonathan L. Bowman, Attorney at Law, PS
Kazan, McClain, Satterley, Lyons, Greenwood &
Oberman, PLC
Keker & Van Nest LLP
Lafayette & Kumagai LLP
Law Office of Lisa E. Schuchman
The Law Office of Susan K. Fuller, PLLC
Law Offices of Cynthia F. Buhr PLLC
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Mona Smith PLLC
Nixon Peabody LLP
Peabody & Arnold LLP
Prince Lobel Tye LLP
Public Interest Law Group, PLLC
Ropes & Gray LLP
Russell & Olson, LLP
Salera Consulting
Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Shearman & Sterling LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skellenger Bender, P.S.
Spectra Law PS
Valdez Noor Todd & Doyle LLP
Venable LLP
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Professional, trade, and civic organizations:
American Benefits Council
Connecticut Alliance for Business Opportunities
Golden Gate Restaurant Association
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Greater San Diego Business Association
Greater Seattle Business Association
Long Beach Community Business Network
Massachusetts Teachers Association
The National Fire Protection Association, Inc.
National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Portland Area Business Association
Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
and Cities, Counties and the United States Conference
of Mayors:
The City of Baltimore, Maryland
The City of Bangor, Maine
The City of Boston, Massachusetts
The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts
The City of Hartford, Connecticut
The City of Healdsburg, California
The City of Los Angeles, California
The City of New York, New York, and the Council
of the City of New York, New York
The City of Northampton, Massachusetts
The City of Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The City of Providence, Rhode Island
The City and County of San Francisco, California
The City of Santa Monica, California
The City of Seattle, Washington
The City of West Hollywood, California
The County of King, Washington
The County of Santa Clara, California
The United States Conference of Mayors