What is the Equality Act?
H.R. 5 and S. 788, better known as the Equality Act, is a piece of legislation being considered in Congress that would create federal protections for LGBTQ Americans against discrimination on the basis of “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity,” specifically in areas including housing, employment, access to public accomodations (restaurants, bathrooms, etc.) and more. The bill in its current form was officially introduced in the House of Representatives and in the Senate on March 13, 2019, although a version of the bill has been making its way around Congress since July 2015.
Where is the Equality Act in the legislative process?
On May 17, 2019, the House of Representatives passed the bill in a 236-173 vote, a historic milestone for the long-awaited legislation. The vote happened largely along party lines, with all but eight Republican representatives voting against the bill. In order to be sent to the President’s desk for signing, the Equality Act would need to be brought up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
How does the public feel about the Equality Act?
While polling on LGBTQ issues is a bit all-over-the-place, here are some key takeaways: in an April 2019 poll from Quinnipiac University, 92 percent of Americans said that employers should not be able to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or sexual identity. While an overwhelming majority of Americans may feel that way, a May Gallup poll revealed that a much slimmer 53 percent majority of Americans believe that new legislation to combat this problem is needed in the U.S.
Perhaps that's because according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 45 percent of respondents incorrectly believed that federal protections for LGBTQ Americans were already in place, with only 23 percent correctly responding that federal protections did not exist.
Who doesn’t support the Equality Act?
Most opposition for the Equality Act comes from religious leaders around the country, saying that the new legislation would roll back protections of “religious liberty” in the United States. Representatives from the American Family Association, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Log Cabin Republicans and more have come out against the Equality Act. President Donald Trump’s administration has also publicly stated that the president won’t support the act, saying that while the Trump and his administration “absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all," they would not support the bill because it "is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”
When did Taylor Swift begin supporting the Equality Act?
While Swift has been quiet about her political leanings in the past, the star first noted her support for protections against LGBTQ discrimination back in October 2018, when she voiced her support for candidates Phil Bredesen and Jim Cooper in the Tennessee midterm elections, citing that “I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG.” This year, the star also donated $113,000 to the Tennessee Equality Project, a group dedicated to fighting anti-LGBTQ bills on the state level.
Finally, on June 1, the star released an open letter supporting the Equality Act on her Instagram, condemning the president’s stance on the issue and starting a petition to urge the Senate to pass the bill. In her new video for "You Need to Calm Down," Swift added an endcard asking her fans to support the bill and her petition, writing "let's show our pride by demanding that, on a national level, our laws truly treat all of our citizens equally."
Who has signed Taylor Swift’s petition?
At press time Swift’s petition had received just over 200,000 signatures, two-thirds of the way to the star’s 300,000 signature goal. Amongst the signees is Democratic New Jersey Senator and presidential hopeful Cory Booker, who wrote a lengthy response in his signing of the petition, where he thanked Swift for supporting the legislation. “Every LGBTQ person who has ever been made to feel like they don't belong, who has ever been bullied, abused, or discriminated against because of who they are and who they love should know that, in the halls of Congress and in the highest levels of the federal government, we see you, we hear you, we love you,” he wrote.
How can I support the Equality Act?
If you would like to support the Equality Act, you can sign your name to Swift’s petition here. The Human Rights Campaign, a fervent supporter of the bill, has also set up an action webpage where you can learn about local events in support of the legislation, email your Senators, become a grassroots lobbyist and more.