We have made significant progress for LGBT equality in our country in recent years. Many of us hoped last week’s Supreme Court Masterpiece Cakeshop decision would help blaze another trail to end the discrimination that is still an everyday reality for too many LGBT people. But that was not the case. While advocates and adversaries debate the decision’s implications, Senior Program Director Matt Foreman urges all of us to move forward with a realistic and long-overdue goal.
As Matt points out, the outcome of this case underscores the need for strong federal action to protect LGBT people’s rights. The fact is, it is still completely legal in 28 states to fire a person or deny them a job—or refuse them adoption rights—because they are LGBT.
From Marriage Equality to Full Equality
In 2015, the Haas, Jr. Fund joined with our partners in the LGBT movement and with millions of people across the country to celebrate the achievement of marriage equality from coast to coast. Throughout that years-long fight, our partners wisely understood that marriage was just one step—albeit a very important one—on the path to full equality for LGBT people in this country.
In areas from jobs to adoption to military service, LGBT people continue to face real barriers to equal opportunities and full participation in society and the economy.
Today, one in four LGBT people say they have experienced discrimination in the past year because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
That goes against everything we stand for as a country. It also goes against the changing tide of public opinion, especially among a majority of young people for whom sexual orientation is a non-issue. Today, record majorities of Americans support laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
Yet the federal government still has no laws on the books preventing an employer from firing someone or refusing them a job simply because they are gay. Meanwhile, on the issue at the heart of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, many states have passed overly broad “religious exemption” laws that allow employers and others to discriminate against LGBT people.
Moving Forward Together
Winning the marriage fight was a landmark achievement for fairness and equality for LGBT people, but last week’s Supreme Court decision shows the work is not done. At the Haas, Jr. Fund, we believe that a new federal nondiscrimination law is necessary to secure marriage equality and basic civil rights protections for LGBT people over the long run.
That’s why we are supporting our partners in the LGBT movement and other allies to work for decisive action on this issue in Washington. We also are encouraging our partners in philanthropy to join us in this urgent work. Find out more about the issue and what you can do here.
Some will say that asking our political leaders to agree on a federal law is an impossible dream. But that’s what many said about embracing marriage equality for LGBT people not so long ago. Achieving full equality for LGBT Americans is achievable and will happen the same way marriage equality happened—with people, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy joining together to work for lasting change.