Some of the biggest corporations in U.S. have joined together in an unprecedented show of support for the LGBTQ+ community as part of the Human Rights Campaign’s Business Coalition for the Equality Act. Over 400 corporations, including dozens of Fortune 500 companies like Apple, IBM, Amazon, and PepsiCo, have jointly called for passage of the Equality Act. The historic bill if signed into law would amend existing law to extend protections against discrimination in housing, federal programs, and elsewhere to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We are seeing growing support from business leaders because they understand that the Equality Act is good for their employees, good for their businesses and good for our country,” Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.
“A workforce that reflects the diversity of today's society drives new ideas and innovation,” Carla Grant Pickens, global chief diversity and inclusion officer at IBM, said in a statement. “At IBM, we seek to hire the most talented individuals regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or other personal characteristics. We also believe that equal protections should extend beyond an employer's four walls, which is why IBM stands with HRC in endorsing the Equality Act.”
Marriot International, the global hotel and hospitality chain, said that, “As a global hospitality leader, our principles of non-discrimination extend to all travelers, and include sexual orientation and gender identity. That is why we are proud to join with the Human Rights Campaign and support passage of the Equality Act, to help ensure equality under the law as well as under our own roof.”
The Equality Act of 2021 was passed by the House by a vote of 224-206 on February 18. Only three Republicans voted in favor of the historic civil rights legislation, which would amend existing law to specifically prohibit discrimination in many areas of society based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These areas would include housing, education, areas of public accommodation, employment, and elsewhere. The bill has broad support across the country, with a new online survey from Hart Research Associates finding 70 percent approval for the Equality Act from those participating, including an astounding 50 percent support from Republicans.
President Biden had initially campaigned on passing the historic legislation within his first 100 days in office, but his administration pulled back from that commitment upon taking office, citing a need to focus on the vaccine rollout among other issues. Biden did almost immediately follow through on one promise, overturning Trump’s hated ban on transgender service members in the military.
HRC’s David thanked the companies for their support, but kept his eyes on the prize, noting the Senate still needs to pass the Equality Act and send it to President Biden’s desk for signature.
“Thank you to every company that is speaking up and advocating for the passage of the Equality Act,” David said. “It’s time for the Senate to listen to the business community and the public and pass this long overdue legislation.”