Approximately 50,000 people have flooded into the City of Brotherly Love this week for the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Nearly 5,000 of these visitors are official DNC delegates responsible for formally selecting the party’s nominee for president. Further, more than 11 percent of these delegates, a record amount this year, are LGBT delegates. In addition to the obvious focus on defeating Trump and electing Clinton, LGBT delegates’ top priority appears to be the passage of the Equality Act.
Introduced in 2015, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act by prohibiting discrimination based on sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. In the House of Representatives, the bill has garnered the support of 175 Congressmen, all of whom are Democrats, except for one brave Republican – Rep. Robert Dold. The Senate’s version, which is identical to the House legislation, has 41 supporters, again all Democrats (including two who are technically Independents) except one Republican, Senator Mark Kirk. While it was introduced last year, it unfortunately has not been able to move through either chamber of Congress.
One delegate from Maryland, Merrick Moses, who is transgender explained the necessity of this legislation: “I’d like (Clinton) to ensure that wherever LGBT people are in this country, they cannot be fired because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. I think Secretary Clinton is the one with the most experience… She has a 40-year track record of working with marginalized communities around the nation and the world.” It is estimated that more than 75 percent of transgender individuals have experienced discrimination in their workplaces, and 25 percent have actually lost their job!
Earl Fowlkes, the DNC LGBT Caucus Chair, elaborated on the need for this protection, explaining that under current law (or lack thereof), LGBT Americans: “can get married today and get thrown out of their homes or fired from their job the next day.”
It is good to see that LGBT are so well represented at the DNC, and we hope both campaigns will recognize the need for further action in order to ensure equality under the law. While the Equality Act has little chance to pass this Congress, it will hopefully be a priority for the next Congress and the new Administration in 2017.