Advance Full Equality
for LGBT People

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 June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgender people are protected from employment discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Outside of employment, however, more than half of LGBT people still lack basic civil rights protections because they live in a state without them. In other words, it is still legal in most states to deny people housing, refuse to serve them in a restaurant or other business, or allow taxpayer-funded programs to
turn away people simply because they are gay or transgender.

It’s time to end this unfair patchwork and extend equal protections from coast to coast.

Federal Funding

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

Under recently promulgated federal regulations, organizations funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (such as those for foster care, Head Start, HIV prevention, substance abuse treatment, community health care centers, trafficking prevention, and financial services and support for low-income families) may discriminate against gay and transgender 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 an array of stigma and discrimination against LGBT people undermines their ability to have stable, safe, and affordable housing.

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

Secure Equal Civil Protections

We’re standing up for the principle that discrimination against LGBT people is profoundly harmful, morally wrong, and it is long past time for the federal government to respond. To this end, we are supporting:

  • Freedom for All Americans Education Fund More

    the bipartisan public education campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people nationwide. Its work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive non-discrimination protections.

  • State-based Equality Organizations More

    to enlist LGBT people, parents, faith leaders, allies, and others to explain to policymakers and those seeking office the profound harms caused by anti-LGBT discrimination and the urgent need for a response from the federal government.

  • National Organizations More

    to enlist their supporters and use their expertise to further the educational work of Freedom for All Americans Education Fund and state-based equality groups.

  • Research and Communications More

    to bolster the need to advance LGBT protections while protecting religious liberties and push back against attempts to block progress through untruthful and malicious attacks on transgender people.

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