Today, Equality Florida, Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE), SAGE, and other LGBTQ leaders and organizations accepted a meeting request from Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar to discuss her positions on LGBTQ equality. Earlier this year Representative Salazar shocked our community when she voted against the Equality Act, profoundly important legislation that would finally establish in federal statutes comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Collectively, our organizations believe our progress is built in dialogue and the exchange of ideas, but also that it is essential for Representative Salazar to understand how disappointing her vote and lack of leadership on LGBTQ rights has been.
Unfortunately, the representative had a shallow analysis of the Equality Act and we expect that a member of congress who represents one of the largest LGBTQ communities in the country understands the important balance that must be struck between LGBTQ equality and religious freedom. The Equality Act strikes that balance.
Opponents to the Equality Act are concocting false narratives about its impact on the freedom of religion and are woefully overstating its effect on existing constitutional protections. It is critically important that we educate and share how the Equality Act embraces the freedom of religion, which is important to all of us. It is one of our nation’s most sacred and fundamental values, which is why it is already fully protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. The Equality Act does nothing to lessen those protections.
We live today in a critical window for a once-in-a-generation opportunity for LGBTQ Americans. The Equality Act is the only legislative vehicle we have to finally enumerate in federal statutes that LGBTQ Americans are protected by the full breadth of civil rights protections our country affords. What our community needs right now is bipartisan leadership.
We stand united as national, state, and local LGBTQ organizations calling for the Equality Act to make it to the President’s desk. If Representative Salazar truly supports LGBTQ Americans she will take action today. We invite all members of Florida’s Congressional delegation to join us in demanding members of Congress to support the Equality Act and to call for its passage in the US Senate.
Our asks for Representative Salazar were clear:
1) Pledge to support the Equality Act and call for its passage in the Senate;
2) Denounce the attacks on transgender youth in Tallahassee and help to create a state where transgender Floridians are respected and welcomed;
3) Work with us to grow the bipartisan coalition calling for comprehensive federal LGBTQ non-discrimination legislation in this Congress.