LGBTQ Advocacy Groups Sign Letter Urging Congress to Include Anti-Discrimination Language in Coronavirus Relief Packages

Almost 200 groups, including LGBTQ rights organizations, have sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to include language that bars anti-LGBTQ discrimination in anything funded by coronavirus relief legislation.

Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National LGBTQ Task Force were among the organization to sign the letter, which was addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It urges these leaders to include language in COVID-19 response legislation that clarifies no one eligible for these programs and services can be excluded, denied, or discriminated against because of “sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.”

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to profoundly impact the lives of all Americans, communities of color, women, and LGBTQ people will be disproportionately affected,” the letter reads. “…LGBTQ people have long faced discrimination in the health care system which has negatively impacted their health outcomes and has additionally made them wary of accessing services in the first place.”

“As a queer, gender non-conforming woman, I worry about the people I know and love who are not currently explicitly protected from discrimination in the programs Congress has created or strengthened in the wake of our current economic and health crisis,” Rea Carey, the executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said in a press statement. “If someone like me, a woman with short hair who dresses in more masculine attire, was laid off tomorrow, they could legally be turned away from a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or in some cases government programs because of gaps in our nation’s civil rights laws.”

Congress has been working on a coronavirus relief package, according to Senate Minority Leader Chumer, that include $350 billion in small business lending, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion to expand testing.