The Declaration of Independence promised all Americans would enjoy the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in our newly formed nation. Only white male landowners enjoyed that right. Legislation has helped people of color, people living with disabilities, and women gain and enjoy those rights.
Our government has not fulfilled that promise to all Americans yet, however, the U.S. House of Representatives took a big step toward that goal. On Friday, the House passed the Equality Act by a vote of 236-173. This black queer Champaign native was in the House chamber when the lawmakers made history.
LGBTQ+ Americans are one step closer to enjoying the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and, dare I say, the pursuit of fabulousness. The work of countless LGBTQ+ organizations and allies helped make this victory happen.
And, it might surprise people to know faith-based advocacy helped make history. Bayard Rustin Liberation Initiative, an organization which I founded, helped send the message that faith shouldn’t be used to justify dehumanization, demoralization, and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people. I was proud to be among that number.
I’m thankful that U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos’ LGBTQ+ constituents could soon be living in a nation where they don’t face discrimination without recourse. I’m grateful she was an Equality Act co-sponsor. The Equality Act, if passed in the Senate, could finally give LGBTQ+ Americans the freedom to be who they are and block barriers to the American dream.
The Rev. Jason Carson Wilson is the founding executive director of the Bayard Rustin Liberation Initiative in Washington, D.C.