The Equality Pledge Network gathered at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C Monday, June 30 at 8:30 p.m. for a vigil, two days before the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s signing.
The network of 240 organizations paid tribute to civil rights activists of the past, as well as making a call for or LGBT people to be included in the act.
“It’s time all LGBT Americans were afforded the same rights granted our fellow citizens,” said J. Todd Fernandez, the network’s campaign manager said in a press release. “Including LGBT Americans in the 1964 Civil Rights Act is the most direct way to counter the harms caused by anti-gay societal discrimination.”
The group of gay rights, religious, community and political organizations want “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to be included in the list of groups that are protected from discrimination. As of now, 21 states provide protections for gay and lesbian people and 18 of those also include gender identity in its list of protections.
There is no federal protection for LGBT people.
At the vigil, attendees paid tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, who paved a path for the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and gay rights leader, Bayard Rustin, who worked with the King on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
This comes after a victory in the LGBT community with President Barack Obama announcing that he will sign an executive order to provide protections for LGBT contractors. The Human Rights Campaign has been working to get states to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to provide protections for LGBT people in the workplace.
The Equality Pledge Network is taking it a step further, wanting to provide full protection for LGBT people, which will impact them not only in job searching and in the workplace but also in housing, and during hate crimes.
The Civil Rights Act was signed into law on July 2, 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the throes of the civil rights movement, ending racial segregation and voter registration requirements that unfairly targeted blacks. It has since been amended to include sex, religion and national origin.
To learn more about the Equality Pledge Network and its goals, visit EqualityPledgeNetwork.Weebly.com.