June 14, 2021

Pushing to pass the Equality Act

At the 2021 Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) Annual Global Meeting (May 14-16), the Resolution To Condemn Recent Anti-Transgender Legislation and to Support Passage of the Equality Act, proposed by Austin Allaire (DA UK) and Brian Westley (DA UK), was adopted. It states:

  • Whereas 16 anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted since the beginning of 2021; and
  • Whereas recent legislation passed in the state of Arkansas serves as a case study of the perils of such laws; and
  • Whereas, on April 2, 2021, Republicans in the Arkansas General Assembly voted to override Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto to enact the Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act; and
  • Whereas this law bans gender-confirming surgery for anyone under 18 and prohibits doctors from providing transgender youth with puberty blockers or hormone therapy; and
  • Whereas this law makes Arkansas the first state to ban this type of vital medical care for transgender individuals; and
  • Whereas this law is opposed by the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); and
  • Whereas, according to research from The Trevor Project, denying gender-affirming healthcare has the potential to cause adverse effects, including depression and suicidal ideation, among transgender youth; and
  • Whereas Mississippi has become the first state to enact a law excluding transgender women and girls from playing sports; and
  • Whereas 31 states have introduced more than 100 pieces of legislation targeting the transgender community in the United States this year alone; and
  • Whereas anti-transgender legislation passed at the state level would be superseded by the passage of a federal expansion of civil rights protections in the form of the Equality Act; and
  • Whereas the Equality Act would protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, jury service, and federally-funded programs such as those for health and education, as well as in public places and spaces;
  • Therefore, Be It Resolved that Democrats Abroad calls upon the State of Arkansas to repeal its discriminatory anti-transgender law; and
  • Be It Further Resolved that DA condemns any and all anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the United States; and
  • Be It Further Resolved that Democrats Abroad supports passage of the Equality Act and will mobilize the global membership to contact their Senators to ask them to support the Equality Act and emphasize the need for filibuster reform.

In line with this way of thinking, Earl Fowlkes, chair of LGBTQ Caucus of the Democratic National Committee, sent an email to constituents on June 2:

“For the past four years, LGBTQ+ Americans faced relentless attacks and hateful rhetoric from the previous administration. Transgender Americans were banned from serving in the military. Protections for fair and equal health care, housing, and education were gutted. And the very letters ‘LGBT’ were erased from government websites. This Pride Month, we will echo what President Biden made clear on Day One to LGBTQ+ people at home and abroad: he has your back.

  • He issued an executive order strengthening civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.
  • He repealed the Trump transgender military ban, enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform.
  • And, he has continuously pushed for the Senate to pass the Equality Act and ensure LGBTQ+ Americans earn long overdue civil rights protections.

“Despite these actions, we still see the LGBTQ+ community facing hate and discrimination today – from state bills harming transgender students to LGBTQ+ people being denied housing, work, or services – that reminds us there is much more work ahead.

“During Pride Month, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the entire Administration will continue championing their belief that America live up to its ideals of equality and freedom for all. The Administration will showcase its support of LGBTQ+ Americans, urge the Senate to pass the Equality Act, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the Senate to pass the Equality Act, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans in the march towards full equality — because no one should face discrimination or live in fear because of who they are or whom they love.”

The DA LGBTQ+ Caucus commends the Biden/Harris Administration for standing with us against oppression and deepening inequalities. As June is Pride Month, we took action with the help of DA UK on June 8 to urge our senators to pass the Equality Act, which will expand civil rights protections to the LGBTQ+ community.

Martha McDevitt-Pugh, co-chair of the DA Global LGBTQ+ Caucus, spoke about the evolution of the Equality Act and LGBTQ+ discrimination in the United States (Notably, LGBTQ+ Americans are not fully protected from discrimination in 29 states.) We shared tips for calling our senators and representatives, modelled a call to senators, and went to breakout rooms so all attendees could call their own senators as well.

While the above resolution was unanimously approved at the Democrats Abroad Annual General Meeting on May 15-16, the Action Night on June 8 served as an opportunity to mobilize Americans living abroad. We urged our senators to reform the filibuster so this bill, and other key legislation, can get passed.