Corporate support building for Equality Act

Illustration by Adrian Forrow

Apple, Dow Chemical and Levis Strauss & Co. are among major U.S. corporations to publicly support the Equality Act, designed to protect all LGBT-identified Americans in federal law.

The proposed legislation, introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-Ore.) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), is expected to face tough opposition from Republicans. But the timing appears right, coming on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision that legalizes gay marriage in the United States.

The Equality Act widens protections that already exist in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination based on race or gender.

“We believe in equal treatment for everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love,” Apple said in a statement.

Dow Chemical called full inclusion of LGBT rights “simply the right thing to do – for business and for society,” while Levi Strauss called it “simply good business.”

Earlier this year, over 120 tech sector leaders called on state and federal legislatures to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes to their civil rights laws and to explicitly forbid discrimination or denial of services to anyone.

Human Rights Campaign, a non-profit civil rights organization, says 31 U.S. states currently have no laws that explicitly forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, despite the fact that public polling reveals the majority of voting Americans support such protections.

Intel, Google, Amazon, GE, HP, Twitter, Facebook, General Mills and Nike are also on the growing list of companies that are backing Merkely’s and Cicilline’s legislative initiative.

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