What You Need to Know About the Equality Act

Movement Advancement Project
3 min readFeb 18, 2021


Today, the Equality Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, with a vote anticipated next week, marking another important step toward the goal of full equality for LGBTQ people. The House previously passed this legislation in May 2019, but the Senate never took it up.

It’s shocking to learn that 29 states do not currently have laws that explicitly protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Without the Equality Act, LGBTQ people in the U.S. remain vulnerable to being evicted from their homes, kicked out of a business that’s open to the public, denied health care, or denied government services in a majority of states simply because of who they are.

The Equality Act builds on the legacy of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by expanding the public places where discrimination is explicitly prohibited.

The Equality Act fills the existing gaps in federal law, which, shockingly:

  • Does not currently protect people of color, women, immigrants and people of minority faiths from being denied service and otherwise discriminated against in retail stores, shopping malls and similar places.
  • Does not currently protect women from discrimination in government services and federally funded programs.

Additionally, the Equality Act will explicitly add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing civil rights laws, meaning that LGBTQ people will be explicitly protected in key areas of everyday life including housing, health care, public accommodations, education, and more.

It is time for our country to pass the Equality Act, because no one should have to live in fear of discrimination simply because of who they are.

MAP has been ready for this moment.

Since our inception, we’ve provided rigorous and independent research to build broad support for equality and opportunity for all. MAP’s messaging research provides the foundation for how to have conversations about the importance of nondiscrimination. Our policy analyses illustrate how the legislation would benefit LGBTQ people, and also women, people of color, and many other communities, as well as make concrete the harms of discrimination. Our partnerships with organizations in the LGBTQ movement and beyond as well as foundations, businesses, and policymakers have helped build a strong, consistent community of champions for nondiscrimination.

Report: Why We All Need the Equality Act Now

Our latest report highlights the urgency of adding nondiscrimination protections now through the Equality Act.

LGBTQ Equality Maps

On issues from nondiscrimination and health care to identity documents and conversation therapy, our Equality Maps provide a quick, yet detailed snapshot of the current state of LGBTQ laws and policies at the federal, state, and local levels.

Learn more from our Equality Maps on nondiscrimination protections in:

Click here for tips and tricks on navigating MAP’s Equality Maps.

Now is the time to modernize our civil rights laws

LGBTQ people are our friends, neighbors, family, and coworkers. They work hard, serve in the military, and pay taxes. When it comes to being able to earn a living, having a place to live, or being served by a business or government office, they should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against.

That’s why the Equality Act is so important. Updating our non-discrimination law helps ensure that all Americans, including LGBTQ Americans, can provide for themselves and their families, meet their obligations, live free from discrimination, and build a better life.

Now more than ever, President Biden and Congress have the opportunity to recommit our country and our elected officials to the hard work of securing fairness, equality, dignity, and safety for all.



Movement Advancement Project

MAP is an independent, nonprofit think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all.