On Tuesday (April 16), LGBTQ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign posted a new video starring singer-songwriter Shea Diamond, in which the star demands that Congress pass the Equality Act as a part of the HRC’s “Americans for the Equality Act” campaign.
In the video, directed by Dustin Lance Black and Paris Barclay, Diamond speaks about how she felt she had to leave her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas, for New York City because she knew in her home, she had no protection against discrimination under the law as a transgender woman. “It was going to New York and having an opportunity there that I realized some states actually fight for the protections of other people,” she says.
The star added that as a touring artist, she isn’t willing to perform in states where she has no legal protection against violence or discrimination. “When I go into these places, I know what I’m going to experience,” she says. “I’m going to experience some type of violence, whether I’m misgendered, or harassed, or someone’s going to throw their Bible at me and tell me that I don’t have the same God-given rights as everyone else.”
The Equality Act, otherwise known as House Resolution 5 and Senate Bill 788, is a bill that has been brought before both the House of Representatives and the Senate that, if passed, would provide federal protections for LGBTQ people by amending the Civil Rights Act to also outlaw discrimination in housing, employment, education and several other key areas on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Diamond concludes the video by insisting that Congress pass the Equality Act to not only protect LGBTQ people in America, but to save young lives. “Passing the Equality Act sends a powerful message to our LGBT youth that they are affirmed, welcomed and protected,” she says. “Join me and the Human Rights Campaign in this fight.”
“Shea Diamond is a profoundly gifted singer and musician whose story of being a proud transgender woman of color from the South is giving hope to countless people across the nation. We are grateful to partner with her as she speaks out for the Equality Act,” HRC’s president Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The harsh reality is that LGBTQ Americans face real and persistent discrimination in their everyday lives, and it’s far past time Congress take action and pass this legislation providing clear, comprehensive nationwide non-discrimination protections.”
Since the Equality Act was introduced in Congress in March, almost all Democrats in the Senate, along with Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, have come out in support of the bill. However, the legislation has yet to be given a date for a vote by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Check out the full video of Shea Diamond’s plea to Congress below: