With a Supreme Court Victory Behind Us, Congress Must Finish the Job on LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Protections
“It is my duty as a representative in Congress … to represent everyone in my community,” Congressman Justin Amash says.
Last month, I joined so many across the nation in breathing a sigh of relief at a U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming that the federal law prohibiting employment discrimination based on sex protects LGBTQ workers. For too long, LGBTQ people in the workplace have feared for their jobs, remained in the closet to avoid being fired and worried about the attitudes of potential employers because of a lack of protections from employment discrimination. Now, LGBTQ Americans can feel safe knowing that the law is on their side.
Despite this advance, critical gaps remain in our nation’s nondiscrimination laws, leaving LGBTQ people vulnerable to mistreatment in housing, schools and public places like restaurants and bars. Even in health care, as the country confronts the novel coronavirus pandemic, a majority of states don’t explicitly protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. And the Trump Administration has worked overtime to make it easier to deny care to LGBTQ people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
As the White House attempts to sow division we know that nationwide, strong bipartisan majorities support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in every area. Clearly, it’s time for Congress to come together and pass comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections. Only then will we be able to finish the job and patch the vulnerabilities that leave LGBTQ Americans behind.
The Supreme Court ruling — a 6-3 decision authored by stalwart conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch — reflects the reality that Americans, by enormous margins, want to ensure that their LGBTQ neighbors and loved ones are safe from harm. Building these majorities and changing people’s minds has required decades of work, patience and time. It’s required LGBTQ people to share their stories, confront misunderstandings about their identities and engage in challenging discussions.
Every day LGBTQ people and our wide range of supporters have been hard at work for the past several years having frank and upfront conversations with our members of Congress. Here in Michigan, faith leaders and people of faith who support LGBTQ dignity and freedom have met several times with Congressman Justin Amash. They have urged Rep. Amash to join with his colleagues across the ideological spectrum in support of comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. And he has heard their voices.
“It is my duty as a representative in Congress to defend the Constitution and represent everyone in my community,” Congressman Amash said in a statement to Inclusive Justice this year. “It is also my responsibility to set an example for public discourse by listening and communicating thoughtfully. … All at the meeting agreed on the need to show love and kindness to our neighbors and on the importance of having a civil conversation. The diversity of our country is a great asset, and we must be willing to listen to one another and not lose sight of how much more unites us than divides us. I’m thankful to Inclusive Justice for taking positive steps in the community to promote this kind of dialogue and mutual understanding.”
I’m heartened by these conversations with Rep. Amash. I believe that honest and open discussions about the issues that matter so deeply to our country and to our path forward. It is the responsibility of Congress, of all of us, to move closer to a country where no one faces discrimination in any area of life simply because of who they are or who they love.
It’s time for Congress to act!