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National Center for Lesbian Rights

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Legislation & Policy

State Policy Working Group

NCLR, along with other national LGBTQ organizations, is part of a State Policy Working Group that addresses proposed state legislation affecting LGBTQ people across the country. The group works to support local advocates in advancing bills to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, healthcare, and other areas, and to allow transgender and nonbinary people to obtain gender marker changes on identity documents.

The group also works to stop the dozens of hostile anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures every year. Among the proposed laws that have been successfully defeated are bills that would permit discrimination against same-sex couples who marry, create broad religious exemptions to existing civil rights protections, allow religiously-affiliated child welfare agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, prohibit transgender people from using restrooms and other facilities based on their gender identity, and deprive transgender youth of access to gender-affirming medical care and participation in school sports based on their gender identity.

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Legislation & Policy

Equality Act

The Equality Act (H.R. 5) would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, credit, education, public accommodations (things like restaurants, hotels, and theaters), and jury service. It would also prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in programs receiving federal funding. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in the last Congress in May 2019 with a bipartisan vote of 236 to 173 but was blocked from consideration in the Senate by then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The bill was reintroduced by Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) in the 117th Session of the United States Congress on February 18, 2021. A vote is expected in the House shortly, with action following soon after in the Senate.

NCLR has played a leading role in drafting the Equality Act and working for its eventual passage. We have partnered with Black and Pink and others to educate Congress and the public on the Act’s potential to reform the U.S. criminal legal system for LGBTQ people and people of color.

Currently, only 22 states have non-discrimination protections that fully protect LGBTQ individuals. According to the Center for American Progress, more than 1 in 3 LGBTQ Americans have reported facing some form of discrimination within the past year, with the number increasing to 3 in 5 for transgender individuals. This discrimination often causes substantial harm to the psychological and economic wellbeing of the LGBTQ community and creates undue difficulties for many LGBTQ people in accessing medically necessary healthcare – most dramatically for the transgender population and people of color.

The most recent polling from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows that more than 80 percent of all Americans (including a majority of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans) support comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that include LGBTQ individuals. FiveThirtyEight has also similarly found that President Biden’s executive order mandating that federal agencies implement the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County in nondiscrimination policies was the most popular of his early executive actions, with the support of an overwhelming 83% of Americans.

More than 600 national, state, and local organizations have signed on to urge the swift passage of the Equality Act, in addition to a broad coalition of faith-based groups and 335 major corporations, showing the breadth of support the legislation has maintained since its passage in the House in 2019.

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Legislation & Policy

Housing Equality

The National Center for Lesbian Rights has always been committed to the principle that sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status should never impact access to housing for people and their families. NCLR’s policy and legislative efforts on equal access to housing have focused on ensuring that all LGBTQ people and families have access to safe, affordable, and fair housing in whatever community they choose to live. Our work has included partnering with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the White House, and other agencies charged with administering housing programs and services to prohibit discrimination in housing.

NCLR has likewise been dedicated to decreasing instances of homelessness and housing insecurity in the LGBTQ community, particularly among LGBTQ youth. Studies estimate that up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. NCLR is committed to finding legislative and policy solutions that target this epidemic. This has included working closely with HUD, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other agencies to raise awareness of the prevalence of homelessness in the LGBTQ community and advocate for regulatory changes to address it.

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Legislation & Policy

Federal LGBTQ Equal Access Rule

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is committed to increasing access to fair housing for the LGBTQ community across the country.

NCLR has worked extremely closely with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help shape fair housing policies that impact our community. In 2010, HUD announced that it would begin interpreting the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex to include discrimination based on gender identity and nonconformity with sex stereotypes. This announcement represented a huge victory and creates significant protections for transgender, gender nonconforming, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. In order to publicize this announcement, NLCR partnered with HUD to create a training for HUD staff on discrimination that LGBTQ people face and how best to work with the LGBTQ community.

NCLR has also been a lead partner with HUD in developing its LGBTQ Equal Access Rule, which extends crucial protections against housing discrimination to the LGBTQ community. NCLR wrote comments on behalf of over 30 LGBT, civil rights, and fair housing organizations in response to a draft version of this rule, and worked closely with HUD behind the scenes in the crafting of the final rule.

The final rule is historic. It prohibits housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public housing, HUD-backed mortgages, and HUD-funded programs and services. Many of the changes NCLR suggested from the proposed rule stage were implemented into the final rule. The final rule was released in January 2012 and went into effect March 5, 2012. In 2016, HUD issued an amendment to the Rule to clarify that transgender persons seeking shelter at HUD-funded homeless shelters must be housed according to their gender identity. Unfortunately, the Trump administration is seeking to roll back these protections in homeless shelters. NCLR and many partner organizations and individuals have opposed these changes with HUD and we will continue to advocate for federal housing policy that is inclusive and protects everyone.

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