Women leaders urge senators to support Equality Act

This week, women leaders across America called on U.S. Senators to support the urgent passage of the Equality Act, which would extend important protections for millions of women — who are currently covered by only some federal nondiscrimination laws — to ensure they don’t have to live in fear of harassment or discrimination.

The Equality Act is landmark federal legislation that would update America’s civil rights laws to include explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people, as well as improve protections for women, people of color, and people of all faiths. 

Nearly 60 leading national and local women’s advocacy organizations endorse the Equality Act, including the National Women’s Law Center, American Association of University Women, Equal Rights Advocates, Women's Sports Foundation, Girls Inc., and dozens more. 

How the Equality Act Extends Protections to Millions of Women

The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination in public spaces and services and federally funded programs on the basis of sex. It would also update the public spaces and services covered in current law to include retail stores, services such as banks and legal services, and transportation services. Among the many federal protections that would be extended to millions of women include:

  • Making it illegal for businesses to charge women more than men for the same services, such as haircuts and drycleaning; 
  • Making it illegal for federally-funded job training programs to discriminate based on sex; 
  • Legally protecting women from sexual harassment in places like hotels, public transit, and restaurants; and 
  • Protecting women from being fired for wearing their natural hair.

“The Equality Act holds immense promise for the lives of women and everyone who faces sex discrimination. For nearly fifty years, the Law Center has proudly advocated for policies that support women's rights in the workplace, in schools, in housing, and across our lives,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “Our support for the Equality Act is central to that mission and to our work to strengthen rights for LGBTQ people, and we are dedicated to fighting for its urgent passage into law."

“The Equality Act is long overdue legislation that would bring our federal civil rights laws up to speed with the gender equality values America has held for decades," said Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates. "Right now, federal law allows businesses to charge women and others higher prices than men for the same services, and government agencies can discriminate against us in the very programs our tax dollars fund. The Equality Act fixes this egregious gap in the law by ensuring unequal treatment is illegal in stores, restaurants, and businesses, and in crucial government services like disaster relief and job training programs. The Senate should take up the Equality Act, do the right thing by passing the bill, and bring our country one step closer to an America that treats all its residents with equal dignity and respect."

"All women should be able to live free from discrimination," said Pat Ashe, President of American Association of University Women of North Carolina. "All women should be guaranteed protection from sexual harassment and discrimination in every area of life — from school to the workplace to the public square. The Equality Act would at last provide these fundamental, basic protections — and the U.S. Senate must take action now to ensure that it becomes law."

Support is Growing Across the Country

Support among these diverse women leaders reflects the broad and growing support for the Equality Act mirrored in communities across the country. Recent polling from Hart Research Associates finds that 70 percent of Americans (including 50 percent of Republicans) support the Equality Act. More than 400 major U.S. businesses — including dozens of Fortune 500 companies — and more than 60 business associations have also publicly supported the federal legislation, along with hundreds of national and local faith leaders, hundreds of members of Congress, and more than 600 organizations, including civil rights, education, health care, and faith-based organizations, in endorsing the Equality Act.

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