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An Open Letter to the New Jersey Congressional Delegation

BY MICHAEL GONZALES

First I would like to thank the members of our Congressional Delegation who have
cosigned on H.R. 5, also known as the Equality Act. To representative
Smith, I would take this opportunity to ask you to please show your
support for this bill and cosponsor it. H.R. 5 is a bill that, if signed into law, would provide
discrimination protections for the people of the LGBTQ community in key areas of everyday life
including housing and employment. It’s an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that must
be passed.

This issue is one that hits very close to home for me as a New Jersey Resident and a
member of the LGBTQ community. A very close friend of mine who wishes to remain
anonymous, lives out in the Midwest was recently outed by a coworker. Outed is the term used
when someone reveals the sexuality or gender identity of another person without their consent.
As a result of this, my friend was fired from his job with no warning. This occurred because
Texas, where my friend lives, as well as many other states do not have discrimination protections
for the LGBTQ community. As a result of this he is currently unemployed and having a difficult
time finding work. In this day and age when Marriage Equality is the law of the land and
assaulting someone because of how they identify is a hate crime, why is it that hard working
Americans can still be fired just because their identity doesn’t conform to the cisgender
heterosexual norm that currently runs this country.

According to Freedom For All Americans, which is a bipartisan campaign to secure full
nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide, twenty eight out of the fifty states
do not have any explicit statewide laws protecting them from discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation or gender identity in employment. Twenty eight, that is more than half the
country. The simple fact of the matter is states that are run by religious conservatives, or who are
bought and paid for by those who do not know the meaning of the phrase separation of church
and state, will never support nondiscrimination policies like this. The only way to make this
country truly equal for all Americans is to legalize non-discrimination policies at the federal
level.

I implore those among you who have not cosponsored the Equality Act to please do so
immediately. Furthermore, I ask that you please get as many allies as possible who have not cosponsored
to do so. This is a bill that can do no harm, it can only help, so there’s no reason to wait any longer.

Thank you for your time.

Michael Gonzales, Kean University student, Lesniak Advocacy Class

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