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Quigley’s Equality Caucus Briefing Addresses “Economics of Equality”

Mar 5, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), Vice-Chair of the Equality Caucus, hosted the first Equality Caucus briefing of the 114th Congress, titled “The Economics of Equality.” A panel of LGBT community experts, who also represent the four agencies that make up the “LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative,” explored economic equality in the LGBT community and how we can better address this critical issue.

“As a result of recent progress, there is a common misconception in this country that individuals who identify as LGBT tend to be well-off and have political power,” said Rep. Quigley. “The truth is the LGBT community is disproportionately impacted by poverty and income inequality compared to their non-LGBT counterparts. Yesterday’s briefing highlighted this disparity and I look forward to continuing this conversation with advocates, colleagues and constituents in order to bring full equality to the LGBT community.”

Watch video of Rep. Quigley’s opening remarks here. 

"The LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative could not be more grateful to Congressman Quigley for helping us move those living in LGBTQ poverty out of the shadows and into visibility,” said Reverend Stan J. Sloan, CEO of Chicago House and Social Service Agency. “With his help and with the help of the entire LGBTQ caucus, our hope is that we can move toward policies and funding that is needed to conduct the research and to provide the services that are needed to help people break the cycle of LGBTQ poverty.”

"Studies show that in some cases people in the LGBT community are more likely to be poor or food insecure than their heterosexual counterparts,” said Dr. Lee Badgett, Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School. “These disturbing patterns demonstrate a real need for research funding to get to the bottom of these trends. I thank Rep. Quigley for inviting the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative to speak on these issues, calling attention to the economic inequality this community faces." 

"The failure of our laws to protect LGBT people in finding a job, obtaining safe housing, and getting a quality education contributes to economic instability within the LGBT community, particularly for women, transgender people, and people of color.  Policies that fight inequality and boost opportunity such as comprehensive non-discrimination, expanding Medicaid coverage, and improvements to vital safety net programs are needed to help all people, including LGBT people, have secure futures," Laura Durso, Director of LGBT Research and Communications Project, Center for American Progress.

"THE LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative grows out of a commitment to addressing the racial, gender and economic diversity of LGBT communities. This diversity shows us that in order to realize LGBT equality we must also focus on inequality. Congressman Quigley understands this truth and we are very grateful for his leadership on these issues,” said Urvashi Vaid, Senior Fellow at Columbia Law School Center for Gender & Sexuality Law.


At today’s briefing, the panelists shared statistics and stories that highlighted the economic inequality experienced by the LGBT community, including:

  • Children of same-sex couples are almost twice as likely to live in poverty compared to children raised by married opposite-sex couples.
  • An estimated 1.6 million youth experience homelessness in the United States every year, but 40% of these young people are believed to identify as LGBT.
  • Approximately 2.4 million LGBT adults, or 29%, have experienced a time in the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family.
  • LGBT youths are overrepresented in foster care. Though they only make up 7.2% of the general population, they account for 13.4% of all individuals in foster care.
  • 7.9% of female same-sex couples live in poverty, a rate higher than both male same-sex and heterosexual couples.
  • More than 20% of same-sex couples under the age of 25 are living in poverty.

Rep. Quigley was recently named a Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. Since his election to Congress in 2009, Rep. Quigley has been a tireless advocate for the LGBT community. In January 2014, he became an original cosponsor of the International Human Rights Defense Act. Previously, he called on Illinois state legislators to pass marriage equality and celebrated when that day came. He is a co-sponsor of the original Respect for Marriage Act of 2009, and has lent his support to the national NOH8 Campaign, a global visual art protest against legislation banning gay marriage. Prior to the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013, Rep. Quigley was a critical opponent of the law and hosted a DOMA field forum to investigate the negative impacts of the law on individuals and families in Chicago. In the fall of 2009, Rep. Quigley was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame for his work as a Cook County Commissioner to extend benefits to LGBT employees.

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus was established in the U.S. House of Representatives in June 2008 by Co-Chairs Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Barney Frank (D-MA), along with Members of Congress who were strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBT people in the United States and around the world. The Caucus serves as a resource for Members of Congress and their staff and works toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and well-being for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

The LGBT Poverty Collaborative was formed in June of 2014 to articulate an LGBT poverty agenda, link the LGBT movement more closely with poverty-focused advocates, increase support and commitment to fighting LGBT poverty among LGBT donors, and increase the engagement of the LGBT movement on economic justice policy issues in general, and fighting poverty in particular. The Collaborative proposes a two-year program to increase a focus on poverty within the LGBT community as a policy priority of the LGBT movement.