This past weekend was North Carolina’s Pride Weekend, which celebrates equal access to protections from discrimination of any and every kind regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Not every state protects its citizens from LGBTQ discriminatory practices, especially in the workplace. North Carolina has more than 250,000 members of the LGBTQ community. Of those 77% have experienced some form of discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Only 2% of North Carolina’s workforce is covered by local laws protecting workers from these types of discrimination. This is wholly and completely unacceptable when more than a quarter million of our state’s residents identify as LGBTQ.

I ask you, what truly differentiates us, as people? Is it our skin color? Is it our ethnic background? Is it our sexual orientation? I contend that these qualities may create wonderful variances within our tapestry of citizens, but it is empathy and the lack thereof, which truly sets us all apart. As your Senator, it is my job to end these forms of intolerance.

In May of this year, The US House of Representatives passed The Equality Act, which extends anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation nationwide – including in North Carolina. Under current federal law, LGBTQ citizens can be fired from a job, evicted from a home, or denied service in a restaurant simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act codifies into federal law provisions that grant equal rights to EVERY American. As you probably have guessed, Mitch McConnell and Thom Tillis have tabled this bill and refuse to even allow a vote on it.

Fighting discrimination is not a new fight and we must be vigilant in fighting it in all its insidious forms. Yet, many on the political right continue to want to roll back the clock to a time where intolerance and discrimination carried the day.

I’m here to tell you that the days are over for people like Thom Tillis and Richard Burr who prefer a monoethnic society to the beauty of cultural diversity. We must work to pass the Equality Act with speed and alacrity and forcefully defend the rights of every single American, not just a select few. Our diversity makes us strong. Inclusion and acceptance win over intolerance every time. As your United States Senator, I will forcefully advocate and ensure the Equality Act becomes law.

I call on NC’s Senators Tillis and Burr to publically support the Equality Act, thereby protecting all North Carolinians from discrimination.


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