Inclusive Equality Act Coalition
We are a group of asexual, aromantic, and pansexual/panromantic activists, who are trying to get the language of the Equality Act updated to be more inclusive and forward-looking around the broad spectrum of human sexuality.
WHAT IS THE EQUALITY ACT?
The Equality Act is a proposed bill that will update the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, and several other laws. The act will expand upon the anti-discrimination protections in these laws to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity. The Supreme Court decision in the Bostock case held that sexual orientation and gender identity are implicitly protected under the existing language in the Civil Rights Act, but the Equality Act will make that completely clear.
The Equality Act is a legislative priority in 2021 under President Biden.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
The Equality Act is a good and necessary step, and one that is long overdue.
However, as it currently stands, the Act uses an outdated and highly restrictive definition for “Sexual Orientation” which unintentionally excludes many people.
“The term ‘sexual orientation’ means homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.”
In particular, asexual and pansexual people are left out, romantic orientation is not mentioned at all, and the wording leaves no room for shifting understanding of sexuality in the future.
In short, the Equality Act uses language from half a century ago to address the world of today, and that’s not good enough.
We propose that the language in the Equality Act be updated to make it more inclusive and forward-looking. Specifically, we are recommending that the Act adopt this definition of “sexual orientation”, adapted from the New York City Human Rights Law:
“The term ‘sexual orientation’ means an individual’s actual or perceived romantic, emotional, physical or sexual attraction to other persons, or lack thereof, on the basis of gender. A continuum of sexual orientation exists and includes, but is not limited to, heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, pansexuality, and aromanticism.”
This wording is more inclusive, explicitly naming aromantic, pansexual, and asexual people. Furthermore, it is open ended, so it won’t leave others behind as the words we use to describe ourselves change over time.