National Black Justice Coalition Statement on the Introduction of the Equality Act
WASHINGTON, DC— Today, the Equality Act was introduced by Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. The Equality Act would extend existing civil rights protections to include on the bases of sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex. After months of advocacy in support of the Act, David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), released the following statement:
"The National Black Justice Coalition applauds the introduction of the Equality Act. For far too long, too many Black Americans have lacked access to basic legal protections won by the Civil Rights Movement because of who we love, or how we show up in the world. In the absence of clear and consistent federal protections, Black LGBTQ and Same-Gender-Loving (SGL) people remain among this country’s most marginalized.
“Black transgender women in particular face extreme violence, including hate crimes, and have difficulty securing employment with family-sustaining wages and opportunities for advancement as well as quality and affordable housing. Black trans women and experience economic insecurity and homelessness at rates far higher than other communities as a result. The protections provided by the Equality Act ensure everyone has the ability to maintain jobs and access housing and other public accommodations so they can provide for themselves and their families.
“Now, Congress has a chance to right these historical wrongs with the codification of the Equality Act. The bill offers protections that are a matter of life or death for millions of Black people — especially those who live in the American South where widespread voter suppression prevents marginalized communities from achieving state-level protections.
“If we want to ensure all of us have the opportunity to be free — that is to be happy, healthy, and whole — we must ensure there are clear and consistent federal protections that include LGBTQ/SGL Black people. That is why the National Black Justice Coalition is calling on all of our representatives to pass the Equality Act.”