Respect Equality

More than 500 US businesses are calling on the Senate to pass LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination laws

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Story at a glance

  • More than 500 major U.S. corporations on Tuesday called for the passage of the Equality Act, which would expand civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • The Equality Act was passed by the House in February, though its fate in the Senate remains unclear.
  • Recent polling has shown that the majority of Americans, regardless of party identification, support federal LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections.

More than 500 major U.S. corporations have joined the Human Rights Campaign in calling on the Senate to pass the Equality Act, the HRC said Tuesday. It’s the largest business coalition to ever come together in support of legal LGBTQ+ equality.

Passed by the House in February, the Equality Act would expand existing civil rights laws to explicitly outlaw discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It would also improve protections for women, people of color and people of all religions.

But while the legislation’s proponents say the Equality Act would simply build upon existing tenets of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, opponents of the bill say it would jeopardize religious objections, by which business owners can deny service to LGBTQ+ individuals in the name of religion.

“It protects the rights of one side, but attempts to destroy the rights of the other side,” Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of Virginia, told NPR after the bill was passed by the House last year. “We ought to protect the liberty of both sides to live their own lives by their own identities and their own values.”


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The Equality Act’s fate in the Senate is unclear.

Under current law, LGBTQ+ people in 29 states lacking explicit nondiscrimination protections risk being denied health care, loans, housing and basic goods and services, according to the HRC.

“In 2022, no person should ever be subjected to harassment or discrimination because of who they are,” HRC Interim President Joni Madison said Tuesday in a statement. “The Equality Act will take major strides toward ensuring that LGBTQ+ people are treated with equal dignity in the eyes of the law, and affirm the longstanding American value that everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly. 

“It’s time for the Senators of both parties to support the Equality Act and send it to President Biden’s desk for his signature,” she said.

The 503 member companies of the HRC’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act reflect the largest business effort supporting legal LGBTQ+ equality since the business amicus brief for marriage equality in 2015, which included 379 businesses.

It’s also a reflection of growing national support for federal LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections.

An October poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 82 percent of Americans support laws shielding LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing — up 10 percentage points since 2015.

Notably, according to the PRRI, support for nondiscrimination laws is strongly bipartisan, with 67 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of independents, and 92 percent of Democrats favoring protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.


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