February 25, 2021
The Honorable Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator
393 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20002
The Honorable Patrick J. Toomey
United States Senator
248 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Mike Kelly
United States Representative
1707 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senator Casey, Senator Toomey, and Representative Kelly:
We, as representatives of the broad spectrum of LGBTQIA+ persons in the City of Erie and Erie County, with the support of our city and county elected officials, write to you today to request that you vote in favor of the Equality Act (H.R. 5).
The Equality Act is bipartisan legislation that would update federal law to include express and enduring nondiscrimination protections for 13 million LGBTQIA+ Americans across virtually every area of daily life.
Fifty percent of LGBTQIA+ people live in the 29 states that lack comprehensive and consistent statewide laws explicitly prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people. While 21 states and over 350 cities have passed LGBTQIA+ nondiscrimination protections, including the County of Erie, this patchwork of protections is unsustainable and leaves too many people behind.
Our nation’s civil rights laws protect people on the basis of race, color, national origin, and in most cases, sex, disability, and religion. But federal law does not explicitly provide non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The need for these protections is clear—nearly two-thirds of LGBTQIA+ Americans report having experienced discrimination in their personal lives.
The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights law—including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and several laws regarding employment with the federal government—to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics. The legislation also amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination in public spaces and services and federally funded programs on the basis of sex.
Additionally, the Equality Act would update the public spaces and services covered in current law to include retail stores, services such as banks and legal services, and transportation services. These important updates would strengthen existing protections for everyone.
The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute recently found that national public support for the Equality Act is around 83 percent. This is the strongest level of support the bill has ever seen. Congress will soontake up the Equality Act and we, the undersigned, urgeyou to enact it swiftly into law.
The Honorable Joseph Schember, Mayor of the City of Erie
The Honorable Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County Executive
The Honorable Carl Anderson, III, Chairman, Erie County Council
The Honorable Kim Clear, Erie County Council
The Honorable Liz Allen, Erie City Council
The Honorable David Brennan, Erie City Council
The Honorable Kathy Schaaf, Erie City Council
City of Erie LGBTQ+ Advisory Council
Erie Sisters and Brothers
Erie Gay News
Greater Erie Alliance for Equality (GEAE)
NWPA Pride Alliance, Pennsylvania Equality Project
TransFamily of NWPA
Pennsylvania Equality Project