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NBJC Endorses the Equality Act


Washington, DC – The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) officially endorsed the Equality Act upon its introduction in the U.S. Congress today. This historic and unprecedented piece of legislation would expand basic non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and gender nonconforming people based on their actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation. The Equality Act adds key LGBT protections to existing civil rights laws including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to ensure—like other protected classes (e.g. race, religion or national origin)—LGBT people cannot be legally discriminated against in the United States. In addition, the Equality Act provides federal protection on the basis of sex and sex-based stereotypes in both public accommodations and federally funded programs.


“Without a federal non-discrimination measure like the Equality Act in law, the current framework of LGBT civil protections—or lack thereof—within states and local jurisdictions provides a majority of LGBT Americans with no clear legal defense from discrimination,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director & CEO. “When a person is both Black and LGBT, discrimination—and the evils of blatant and systemic racism—is too common place and faced on a number of levels that are fundamentally unacceptable in a democracy. As such, NBJC supports the Equality Act, which would provide vital legal protections to so many in the Black LGBT community who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination in our nation.”


According to UCLA’s Williams Institute, 3.7 percent of all adult African Americans identify as LGBT, representing more than one million Black LGBT Americans. Significant populations of Black LGBT people live in southern states that often have no non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The Equality Act would ensure that the most vulnerable in the LGBT community—including many Black LGBT people—have recourse when they are treated unfairly because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.


What does the Equality Act do?

  • Prohibits discrimination on the account of an individual’s actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation in the context of employment, housing, credit, education and jury service.

  • Further prohibits discrimination based on gender identity, sexual orientation and sex in federally funded programs and places of public accommodations.

  • Expands the definition of public accommodations to include retail stores, transportation services like airports, taxis and bus stations, and service providers like accountants.

  • Codifies the existing interpretations of sexual orientation and gender identity bias as being forms of sex discrimination, which many courts and federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, have understood to be the current law.


“The heightened attention we have seen in recent years, months and days about the mistreatment of Black people in regards to policing, racial profiling and senseless violence demonstrates that the fight for true equality continues. Even with key civil rights laws on the books meant to prohibit discriminatory treatment, we continue to live in a nation grappling with the plight of racial justice,” added Lettman-Hicks. “The movement for equal treatment under the law calls for us to continue to place pressure on those in power to make and enforce laws that protect us all—no matter our background. This is why NBJC will continue to fight to see an end to all forms of racism in our nation and world, while simultaneously working to see the day when legislative measures like the Equality Act are signed into law.”


The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.