The National Association for the Advancement of Colored people (NAACP), the country’s oldest civil rights organization for African Americans, has publicly endorsed the Equality Act, reported NBC News.
The Equality Act would extend current protections against racism to include protections of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“We support what it does – and we support it now,” said Hilary Shelton, the D.C. bureau director of the NAACP. “It’s important that it gets through.”
The civil rights organization, founded in 1909, has long supported the LGBTQ community. The NAACP supported the inclusion of LGBTQ discrimination protections in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and in the Affordable Care Act.
They also supported same-sex marriage and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, signed by Barack Obama to expand federal hate crime laws to include LGBTQ people.
The organization’s support of the Equality Act was called into question by Gregory T. Angelo, the former president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay conservative group. In an op-ed called “Don’t Fall for the ‘Equality Act,’” he said, “African American legacy civil rights groups are absent” from the list of those supporting the legislation, specifically mentioning the NAACP.
However, Shelton said the group endorsed the bill in meetings with two NAACP sponsors, Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. David Cicilline.
“We believe the same protections that we have worked for so hard over the 110 years of the NAACP should be extended to all Americans,” Shelton said, “particularly members of the LGBTQ community.”
House Democrats reintroduced the Equality Act earlier this month. While the bill has overwhelming House support, support must cross party lines in the Republican-dominated Senate to be passed.