By Lauren Rearick
On June 1, Taylor Swift recognized Pride Month by publicly encouraging her state Senator to pass the Equality Act, which would ensure legal protections for LGBTQ+ people.
The Equality Act, which the House of Representatives passed on May 17, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other pieces of federal legislation so that discrimination on the basis of someone’s sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity would be illegal. The bill would be particularly focused on discrimination as it pertains to education, employment, housing, credit, federally-funded programs, federal jury service, and public accommodations, the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ-rights non-profit explained.
In the letter, Taylor denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to not support the act. “I personally reject the President’s stance that his administration ‘supports equal treatment of all’ but that the Equality Act ‘in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights,’”she wrote in a letter she wrote to Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. “One cannot take the position that one supports a community while condemning it in the next breath.”
In order to become law, the bill must face a Republican-majority Senate and the White House, and neither are expected to support it. There’s no definitive date for when the Equality Act may reach the Senate, but Taylor encouraged her followers to ask senators to support the bill.
Her letter to Senator Alexander detailed her support for a measure she says would prevent “un-American and cruel treatment” of LGBTQ+ individuals. “Our country’s lack of protection for its own citizens ensures that LGBTQ people must live in fear that their lives could be turned upside down by an employer or landlord who is homophobic or transphobic,” she wrote in an accompanying caption. “The fact that, legally, some people are completely at the mercy of the hatred and bigotry of others is disgusting and unacceptable.”
Nick Morrow, the press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, told MTV News that it was “exciting” to see Taylor advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. “Through her social media, Taylor can speak directly to millions of voters,” Morrow said. “It’s heartening to see celebrities like Taylor use their tremendous reach and influence to educate her fans about the Equality Act and encourage them to reach out to their senators to pass this critical legislation, too."
The passage of the Equality Act could prevent a future of continued discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, and Sarah Massey, the Director of Communications for the National LGBTQ Task Force, told MTV News that more public figures should speak out and voice their support. “We still have many hurdles to achieving full liberation,” Massey said. “The Equality Act is the cornerstone of our movement to achieve full federal legal protections for all of us, all the time. Discrimination and hateful bigotry still exist, with dire and sometimes dangerous, consequences for LGBTQ people, and this law can help change all that.”
Since taking office, the Trump administration has passed numerous laws that threaten the basic rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. Within the last year, the government has passed legislation that bar transgender individuals from enlisting in the military, permitted South Carolina adoption agencies the right to refuse adoption by LGBTQ+ parents, and proposed a rule that would allow healthcare providers the right to refuse performing hormone therapy, hysterectomies, orchiectomies, or other transition-related services, if they claimed religious objections. The administration is also reportedly considering a measure that would allow government-funded homeless shelters the right to deny someone access based on their gender identity, or otherwise misgender them in shelter placement; either decision would put trans and gender nonconforming people directly in harm’s way.
It remains to be seen whether Taylor’s call to action could impact the future of the Equality Act, but the singer has a proven track record of pushing fans to take action. After she encouraged followers to register to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, Vote.org noted a surge in its voter registration, CNN reported. The increase could not be directly attributed to Taylor alone, but it did cause Trump to announce a 25 percent decrease of his appreciation for her music; nearly twice that amount of people currently support impeachment proceedings for the President, Newsweek reports.