Why We Need to Pass the Equality Act

US Senator Gary Peters
By | 2019-06-26T15:52:09-04:00 June 26th, 2019|Opinions, Viewpoints|

If you looked up homosexuality in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 50 years ago, you would see it listed as a mental disorder.
There’s no question we’ve come a long way since then. This month, we celebrate a month that honors the contributions and sacrifices of the entire LGBTQ community. Pride Month is a time to reflect and recognize the perseverance of the entire LGBTQ community in the face of extreme bigotry and discrimination.
In a short few years, we’ve made huge strides. In Congress, I’ve been fortunate to see this progress firsthand and help lead the fight for equal rights. I was proud to vote in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because no patriot should be turned away from serving their country simply because of who they are. During my service in the U.S. Navy Reserve, I served with many brave and dedicated men and women. I was never concerned about their sexual orientation: only that they were committed to defending our country. I also signed an amicus curiae brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act – and I’m glad it did.
And we all remember June 26th, 2015: the day when marriage equality was achieved across the country. It was a beautiful moment – and one that was made possible in part by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse: two Michiganders who wanted to start a loving family. They took their adoption case all the way to the highest court in the land.
It took courage – and America is better because of it.
But there’s more work to be done. Here in Michigan and in many places across the country, you can still be fired simply for being who you are, denied an apartment or mortgage or refused service at a restaurant. That is wrong and must change.
Every American has the right to be with the person they love and not worry that it will lead to discrimination in any form. This is why I proudly support the Equality Act. Employers should be prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. By ensuring that the Civil Rights Act includes a clause prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, we can take a huge step towards a more inclusive and equal country for all Americans. If we ensure equality at every level then there will be no worry of inequality at any level.
We have yet to fully come together and show that we are a country where anyone can truly have the chance to succeed. The Equality Act can help change that – I’m glad the House passed this bill, and it’s past time for Leader Mitch McConnell to put it on the Senate floor for a vote.
We need to get to the point where every American feels confidence in the notion that they will not face discrimination because of their sexual orientation. Even today, legally married same-sex couples are struggling to do something as simple as amend their taxes to reflect their corrected marital status. Just this week, I cosponsored the Refund Equality Act to ensure that every married couple is able to file amended joint tax returns back to the date of their marriage.
We have shown before that as a country we can rise above and stand stronger together in the face of hardship. Fifty years ago this week, the Stonewall riots took place that sparked the movement helping us to where we are today. As Senator, I’ll always support this movement by defending the rights of all Americans: no matter whom they love or how they identify.

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US Senator Gary Peters