Half of all LGBTQ Americans live in a state without equal employment and fair housing guarantees. David Stacy of the Human Rights Campaign discusses the proposed Equality Act, which would amend federal civil rights law to include the LGBTQ population. This discussion continues in part 2 (The Equality Act: Reintroduced).
Interview recorded on May 17, 2017. Part 1 of 2.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: Fewer than 20 states offer explicit antidiscrimination protections for LGBTQ citizens. That means half of all LGBTQ Americans live in a state without equal employment and fair housing guarantees. One organization aims to bridge the gap by championing legislation at the federal level. David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, joins me to discuss. David, welcome to the program. It's good to see you.
Stacy: Thanks, Robert.
Traynham: Walk us through specifically what the Equality Act attempts to do.
Stacy: Sure. Well, the Equality Act would amend federal civil rights law to protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination in every area of law that we protect, other categories. So, employment, housing, credit, public accommodations -- really, the range of services and activities where everyday Americans would participate but might face discrimination in their lives. So when they go into a store, you don't want to be turned away because you're LGBTQ. Or in your job, you want to be sure that you're protected in your job and not discriminated against because of who you are.
Traynham: Or perhaps if you maybe want to rent an apartment, the landlord legally can say, "You know what? I'm not interested in renting to you."
Stacy: That's right. That's right. Or if you're married and they don't want to -- if you're a same-sex couple and you're married, and they want to turn you away because you're a same-sex couple, that's something that's a challenge.
Traynham: You know, David, what's so interesting is, here we are in 2017. The Supreme Court obviously ruled in favor of legalized marriage for gays and lesbians and so forth. It feels like the society has moved to a sense of normalcy with this. But obviously, the state legislators are yet to pick up on this. Why is that the case?
Stacy: Well, Congress is a lagging indicator. And you know, members of Congress are really more followers than leaders. And the American people really are there, by and large. Recently, a poll came out that shows that 64% of Americans now support marriage equality. It was much lower when the Supreme Court made the marriage-equality decision. And then when you take a look at nondiscrimination protections, even more of the public is with us. Consistently, polls are over 70% showing support for federal nondiscrimination protections.
Traynham: Talk to us about the Human Rights Campaign, and specifically what you do.
Stacy: Sure. The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest LGBTQ human and civil rights organization. We lobby Congress. We lobby state legislatures. We do political activities, as far as engaging our membership in elections. We have a foundation that ranks corporations -- our corporate equality index. We rank healthcare organizations. And so, we really try to make change in both policy changes in the legislature and Congress and in local government, as well as trying to change institutions. You know, right now, more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies have nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation, and more than 75% on gender identity. And so, we've really made tremendous progress in trying to change institutions, even though Congress is a little bit slower sometimes.
As the Special Olympics celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018, we take a look back at the early days, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver created a backyard summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities. Today, there are 4.9 million Special Olympics athletes from more than 172 countries.
The LGBTQ fight for equal rights became organized in 1969, after the riots at New York City's Stonewall Inn. LGBTQ civil rights activist and author Mark Segal has been involved in the movement from its beginning. Mark joins Robert Traynham for a candid and intimate discussion about his life, his role in the fight for equality, and the state of LGBTQ rights across America and around the globe. Mark is the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News. Interview recorded on May 17, 2017.
The Asian American Pacific Islander community makes up six percent of the U.S. population, but is growing more than four times as rapidly as the total U.S. population. Asians are the largest group of immigrants to enter the U.S. as immigrants. A conversation with Janelle Wong, Senior Researcher at AAPI Data about the fastest-growing but one of the understudied racial groups in the United States.
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be hosted this summer in Seattle, with more than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing 50 states and the District of Columbia. Jason Schriml of the Special Olympics USA Games discussed the impact the games and this organization that highlights athletes with intellectual disabilities through highly competitive sports, uplifting experiences, and demonstrating inclusion for all.
Preparations are underway for the 2020 United States Census. A fair and accurate count of all communities is of major importance, as data gathered is used to determine federal funding, congressional representation and more. For some populations, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the process can be of concern due to immigration status, language barriers and fear of providing personal information. John Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC joins Robert Traynham to discuss the importance of an accurate count, especially for the AAPI population in America.
Filipino Americans make up the third largest subgroup of Asian Americans today, with millennials comprising nearly a quarter of this population. And while there about 4 million Filipino and Filipino Americans living in the U.S today, this population is underrepresented in political and leadership roles. Brendan Flores, National Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations joins Robert Traynam to discuss the welfare and well-being of Filipino Americans and efforts to strengthen the personal and professional development of young Filipino Americans.
In 1974, Kathy Kozachenko was elected to the Ann Arbor City Council in Michigan, becoming the first openly gay or lesbian candidate elected to public office in the United States. Forty-four years later, representation stands at 539 elected officials who openly identify as LGBTQ, holding public office from municipal to federal levels. While this number is at an all-time high, this population remains underrepresented at just 0.1 percent of all elected official nationwide.
Ruben Gonzales, Vice President of Leadership Initiatives at the LGBTQ Victory Institute, joins Paul Lisnek to discuss efforts to increase the ranks of LGBTQ elected officials and create a national network to help further LGBTQ equality through the organization’s “Out for America Census Project.
Indian Americans, long underrepresented in elected office, hit a key milestone in the 2016 Congressional election, gaining three seats in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. With a total of five Indian Americans elected to Congress, parity has been achieved between the Indian American population and Congressional representation. Progress continued in the 2017 elections, with twenty-five Indian American candidates who were elected to various political offices across the country. Gautam Raghavan, Executive Director of the Indian American Impact Project joins Comcast Newsmakers to discuss the increase in ranks of Indian American representation.
There is a current trend toward incivility dominating public discourse in the United States. A grassroots campaign is working to reverse that trend, encouraging civility to improve collaboration, compromise and productivity in legislative bodies. Jody Thomas, Executive Director of the National Foundation for Women Legislators discusses efforts by NFWL and partnering organizations to encourage civil discourse for elected officials.
"In an effort to boost its economy, a 2012 tax experiment resulted in the state of Kansas being faced with financial challenges. Revenues diminished and the economy grew more slowly than in neighboring states and the country as a whole. Representative Jim Ward, Kansas House Democratic leader shares how a collaborative effort resulted in setting the state on the right path to a better financial future.
Interview recorded November 30, 2017.