New coalition aims to secure federal protections for LGBTQ Americans

The Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition was announced in a press call on Wednesday


Ted Eytan

The Equality and Fairness for all Americans Coalition is interested in seeing a bipartisan bill ushered through Congress to provide renewed and strengthened protections for LGBTQ Americans.

Equality Arizona is one of the new Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition‘s nine charter members.

The coalition was presented on Wednesday, in a call open to the public as well as to the media. In addition to Equality Arizona representative and coalition co-founder Michael Soto, diverse representatives from Fairness West Virginia, Georgia Equality, Wyoming Equality and more participated on the call.

A key factor inspiring the EQFFAA’s founding is the fact that civil rights protections extended to LGBTQ Americans have not been updated in Congress in nearly 50 years. Now, in 2022, the coalition sees a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for the federal government to strengthen the safeguards for LGBTQ citizens for the first time since 1974 — primarily, through passing the Equality Act.

“As a pastor, I deal in hope, and this initiative is the most hopeful thing that I have seen in years, if not ever,” Parity Executive Director Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen said. “We are all coming out together in something that is so hopeful, and I’m so excited and so grateful for my colleagues and friends around the country who are a part of this.”

The EQFFAA supports a drastic expansion of employment discrimination protections, and its platform also calls for the immediate cessation of conversion therapy. Medical associations and religious officials have derided the practice as unscientific and traumatic, but it remains legal in most states (including Arizona).

As with all previous efforts to upgrade protections for LGBTQ Americans, a potential stumbling block in Congress will be “reaching across the aisle.” With the filibuster remaining in place in the United States Senate, the Democrat-sponsored Equality Act needs 10 Republican senators on board in order to end up on President Joe Biden’s desk — and that is if there is uniform Democratic support in the chamber.

“In this country, for better or worse, we have seen that the most successful laws over the long term are those that have bipartisan support,” Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham said.

Angela Hughey, the president and founder of Arizona-based One Community, spoke to the moment’s urgency with midterm elections taking place later this year.

“We know that the clock is ticking, and this really may be the last opportunity for bipartisan, LGBTQ-inclusive federal legislation for the next decade or more,” Hughey said. “We know that we have not just an opportunity, but a responsibility to create legislation that can break the partisan gridlock.”