The Policy Gap

Existing policies do not sufficiently protect all LGBTQ people in the U.S. from discrimination and do not support their economic well-being fairly & equally.

Nondiscrimination Law

Almost half (45%) of Americans erroneously believe LGBTQ consumers to be covered under U.S. Civil Rights laws in 2019, but LGBTQ people still live without protection from harassment and unfair treatment in school, at work, and in the market in many parts of the country. [i]

Without federal protection, LGBTQ Americans rely upon a “patchwork” of state and municipal laws to protect themselves. But only a few can:

  • 71% of LGBTQ Americans (~10.5M people) live in states with no protection from discrimination in credit transactions.[ii]
  • But in 4 -out-of-14 states with protections, religious exemption law can be used as a defense to state anti-discrimination law.[iii]

Federal recognition of sexual and gender identity minorities under present Civil Rights Laws–by Court or Congressional action (e.g. the Equality Act)[iv]–would empower regulators and citizens to vindicate consumers’ right to be free from unfair anti-LGBTQ bias in markets for employment, education, and in financial service, insurance, and real estate transactions.

Other Needed Reforms

In addition to inclusion under present civil rights laws, LGBTQ Americans need other state and federal policy reforms to obtain equitable treatment in government programs, benefits, and policies that guarantee their full and fair inclusion in the broader economy.

Goals for LGBTQ households and communities will continuously evolve, but some present examples of needed policies include policies creating fair treatment under paid-family leave[v] and medical leave laws,[vi] new LGBTQ data collection by government agencies, and government programs to support community development, housing, and health access for LGBTQ households, organizations, and communities.


[i] including 40% of those aged 18-34 and 57% of registered Republicans. Maria Caspani, Only one-in-five (23%) said LGBTQ people were not protected at the federal level, Reuters (June 11, 2019)

[ii] Movement Advancement Project. “Equality Maps: State Non-Discrimination Laws.” (November 28, 2019).

[iii] Movement Advancement Project. “Equality Maps: Religious Exemption Laws.” (November 28, 2019).

[iv] An Act “To prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes” by recognizing sexual orientation and gender identity under the Civil Rights Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and Fair Housing Act. Equality Act, H.R. 5, 116th Congress (2019)

[v] The Center for American Progress notes that without “Without inclusive definitions of who is considered “family,” paid leave policies may fail to support workers who provide care to so-called chosen family….” Katherine Gallagher Robbins et. al, People Need Paid Leave Policies That Cover Chosen Family, Center for American Progress (October 30, 2017)

[vi] Shortcomings arise from the term “serious medical condition,” which is a defined term within the act and may not include all treatments and conditions associated with with a person’s medically-supervised gender transition, and some government agencies have deemed treatments associated with gender transition as not medically necessary.