Although our nation has made significant progress in the area of LGBTQ rights in recent years, the LGBTQ community continues to face serious issues including hate crime, workplace and housing discrimination, and ongoing health disparities.

Despite these realities there are individuals and groups committed to “rolling back” any progress that has been made, often in the name of religious liberty. Also, a significant number of LGBTQ people have reported increased experiences of discrimination. In the words of John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, “An unseen casualty of a tumultuous year has been the LGBTQ community.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, especially those of color, experience violence at disproportionally higher rates than their straight cisgender counterparts. According to the FBI, bias against those with a diverse sexual and/or gender identity accounted for 19.7 % of hate crimes reported in 2016, an increase of 5% from the previous year. Hate crimes reported against transgender individuals increased 43% in the same year, with at least 27 transgender Americans murdered in 2016. GLAAD and The Harris Poll found that 55 percent of LGBTQ adults reported experiencing discrimination in 2017 due to sexual orientation or gender identity, a significant increase of 11 percent from the previous year. Protections have been instituted in some communities, but there is no protection from discrimination in many states or at the Federal level in employment, housing and public spaces and services. I, therefore, support a Federal Equality Act.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are integral aspects of our selves and should never lead to discrimination, abuse, or violence. We need to advocate for laws and policies that will protect everyone’s dignity and work for a world where there is justice for all.

GLAAD’s 2018 Accelerating Acceptance report shows alarming decline in LGBTQ acceptance