One year ago this week, the US House of Representatives voted in support of the Equality Act. The bill is stalled in the Senate where it would need at least 60 votes to break a filibuster. While the Senate is comprised of 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and 2 Independents, San Diegans know that supporting LGBTQ rights and protections is a nonpartisan issue. Our Republican Mayor, Jerry Sander came out publicly in support of marriage equality in 2007, and our Republican Mayor, Kevin Faulconer came out publicly in support of the Equality Act in 2019. In fact, polling tells us that 82% of Americans support protections for LGBTQ people from discrimination, and over 500 corporations have signed on to support the Equality Act. At a time when people in our country can seem so divided, it’s impressive to see the gains our movement has made in shifting the public consciousness and consensus around the humanity of LGBTQ people.
The Equality Act is a vital piece of legislation that will create expressed protections for the LGBTQ community under federal law as well as enhance existing legal protections for people of color, people of faith, immigrants, and women. If passed, LGBTQ people will finally have protections from discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public accommodation.
For years, a strategy by anti-LGBTQ extremists has been to stack anti-LGBTQ judicial appointments while placing hundreds of seemingly innocuous bills and blatantly oppressive pieces of legislation in cities, counties, and states all across the country. Their goal has been to chip away at LGBTQ protections all the way to the supreme court, which just this week announced that it will take up a case this fall on whether LGBTQ civil rights violate the First Amendment. It’s time to end the filibuster and pass the Equality Act.
Our LGBTQ movement has made impressive gains within our City, County, and State, and still, we know the work is far from over. It’s not just about changing the law, it’s about changing the lived experience of our community for the better. As the year progresses and the world begins to reopen, we hope you find ways to engage with our year-round programs that help to advocate for LGBTQ progress and our events that create safe environments for LGBTQ arts and culture to thrive as together we pursue Justice with Joy.
Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made them a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.