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Nebraska faith leaders urge state's senators to support federal Equality Act

Nebraska faith leaders urge state's senators to support federal Equality Act

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In his first address to Congress, President Joe Biden called for passage of the Equality Act and gave a shout-out to transgender youth, saying "the president has your back."

Forty Nebraska faith leaders called on Sens. Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer to support passage of the Equality Act in an open letter.

The legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations, education and other areas.

The Senate held a hearing on the bill in March but has taken no action. The House passed its version in February.

In recent weeks, faith leaders in states across the country — including Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — have publicly urged their senators to support the Equality Act.

“Faith leaders across the Cornhusker state representing different faith traditions are speaking out on why, as a matter of faith, equality for all is vital to our communities and our state,” said Abbi Swatsworth, executive director of OutNebraska, an LGBTQ advocacy organization. “This letter is a commitment from our faith leaders that we must push forward to a future where no Nebraskan faces discrimination because of who they are or who they love.”

OutNebraska leaders pointed to evidence of broad support for the Equality Act, including a study by the Public Religion Research Institute that found that 76% of Americans favor laws that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations and backing from a coalition of more than 400 businesses and 600 organizations.

Nebraska is one of 29 states that does not have laws explicitly protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.

The Equality Act would also extend protections to millions of women who aren’t covered under some existing federal anti-discrimination laws and expand the public spaces and services that can’t discriminate against anyone based on race, national origin, or religion.

For a list of signers, go to freedomforallamericans.org/nebraska-faith-leaders-tell-congress-to-pass-equality-act/

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist

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