The Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia (WBA) is a champion of tolerance, diversity, and respect for all. We support all individuals in how they choose to live their lives and in how they live their truths. The WBA supports all people regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity, including all members of the WBA community, and society as a whole, who are also part of the LGBTQ+ community. We are concerned about the growing atmosphere of fear and hatred in the United States and the increasingly inflammatory rhetoric used against the LGBTQ+ community. We believe that this targeted rhetoric has resulted in discriminatory and violent actions against the community.

The WBA condemns all inflammatory and hateful speech and all of the countless attacks against the LGBTQ+ community. We strongly condemn the December 19, 2022, shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which killed five people and injured 25 and the previous shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016, which killed 49 people and injured 50.

Notwithstanding the continuing refrain of discriminatory speech and actions targeting the LGBTQ+ community, lately there have been pointed verbal and legislative attacks against the transgender community, many for political gain. Some elected politicians and media outlets claim that members of the LGBTQ+ community are pedophiles who are “grooming” children in order to abuse them. This false and malicious narrative, among others, has been weaponized against the transgender community and has resulted in a slew of discriminatory legislative measures and policies that are harmful to transgender young people, their parents, and the transgender community at large. Tennessee has just enacted laws banning gender affirming care for people under age 18 and public “adult cabaret shows,” the latter of which is aimed at drag performances. In Texas, the governor has directed the state child services department to consider age-appropriate gender affirming care to be “child abuse,” allowing minors to be taken from their parents or guardians, even those who have consented to such care. These laws are just a sample of the myriad legislative efforts that have been directed against the transgender community and against the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.

On the federal level, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, enacted by Congress in 2009 (HCPA), prohibits crimes that target individuals because of their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. However, the HCPA needs to be augmented by state legislation addressing hate-motivated crimes that terrorize LGBTQ+ communities across the country. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, some states have gone in the opposite direction and have enacted discriminatory laws against the community. These discriminatory laws targeting LGBQT+ communities are unjust and unfair on their face and will only serve to create more hatred, discrimination, and violence.

In 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which would provide explicit non-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community.  Specifically, the bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federally funded programs, credit, and jury service. The bill has not yet passed the U.S. Senate. President Biden has urged Congress to pass the Equality Act, including in his second State of the Union address on February 7, 2023.  The WBA endorses the passage of this important legislation.

The WBA supports and advocates for all communities to live their lives in dignity and peace without fear of discrimination, harassment, and violence directed against them. The LGBTQ+ community whole heartedly deserves this too.

Approved by the Board of Directors, April 13, 2023