We Stand For Equal Rights For Gay And Lesbian Americans

Equality makes us stronger as a nation. When communities and governments treat all people fairly—including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender—it benefits everyone. The United States has made important progress in extending equal rights to LGBT people, but we still have a long way to go.

The Work Continues

Freedom and equality are not new values.
They define our collective aspirations as a nation.

Today, solid majorities of Americans support laws and policies aimed at reducing discrimination against LGBT people. People across the country have come to understand that the strength and the success of our communities and our economy depend on the diverse talents and skills of all people. We’re all better off when everyone has a chance to thrive.

But the fact is, it’s still legal in most states to deny people housing or refuse to serve them in a restaurant or other business—simply because they are gay or transgender.

Only 23 States Protect Gay People from Discrimination

22 States and DC

Prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

1 State

Prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation only

27 States

Don’t prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity

Map of U.S. states that deny equal civil rights protection to LGBT people

The Work Ahead

In 2001, the Haas, Jr. Fund became the first foundation to make marriage equality a funding priority. With the Supreme Court’s historic Obergerfell ruling in June 2015, the freedom to marry was extended to gay and lesbian couples from coast to coast.

The Haas, Jr Fund and our partners are committed to securing equal civil right protections for LGBT people across the United States including protections against discrimination in the following areas:

Federal Funding

Federally funded programs are still allowed to discriminate against LGBT people.

Public Accommodations

LGBT Americans experience discrimination in public accommodations, such as restaurants, motels, retail stores, and doctors’ offices.

Since marriage equality became the law of land, individuals and small companies have refused to provide services to same-sex couples. Transgender people have been specifically targeted through so-called “bathroom bills” (which make it illegal for transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity).


Studies show that LGBT people are denied housing and are evicted at higher rates than non-LGBT people.

A 2014 report from the Equal Rights Center found that nearly half (48%) of older gay couples inquiring about housing in a senior housing facility faced some form of adverse treatment when compared to straight couples.

How We’ll Get There

Defending Marriage Equality and Securing Equal Civil Protections

We’re supporting legal action and public education efforts to ensure that the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality decision is enforced and not eroded by measures seeking to sanction discrimination against gay and lesbian couples and their children.

We’re standing up for the principle that LGBT people deserve the same civil rights protections as all other Americans and supporting efforts in the following areas to help move the nation to a tipping point on this issue:

  • Litigation More

    We’re supporting litigation seeking to secure a Supreme Court decision holding that current federal nondiscrimination laws should be interpreted to include discrimination against LGBT people.

  • Research and Communications More

    We’re investing in research to find the best ways to change hearts and minds and increase public support for the need to protect LGBT from discrimination.

  • Public Education More

    We’re supporting the work of Freedom for All Americans Education Fund and state-based groups to educate policymakers and the public about the harms caused by anti-LGBT discrimination and the need for a federal response.

The United States is viewed around the world as a land of opportunity and freedom—a place where people who work hard, follow the law, and meet their responsibilities have a chance to get ahead and make a positive difference. It’s time to ensure that this vision is a reality for LGBT Americans—and for everyone.

Program Staff

All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about.

Harvey Milk