Democrats Introduce Equality Act for LGBTQ Americans

A person’s rights should not depend on a zip code.

Congressional Democrats introduced the Equality Act on March 13. The bill would edit current legislation on civil rights to ban any discrimination against any LGBTQ person in the context of employment, public accommodations, credit, federal programs, education, and jury service. Both House Democrats and Democratic Senators introduced the bill at a Capitol Hill press conference. The rationale behind this bill is the innate discrimination suffered by LGBTQ Americans due to religious beliefs. The Equality Act was proposed in both the houses of Congress so that LGBTQ individuals can be protected from such hate.

This Equality Act is not a new piece of legislation. The present bill, introduced in 2015, is a version of another law which saw the light of day in 1974. Other than the addition of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to classes protected against any sort of discrimination by the 1964 era Civil Rights Act, the new bill explicitly specified it would be against the law to engage in hostile discrimination against all the protected classes in emergency shelters, pharmacies, retail stores, banks, and transit among other places. In its press release, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote the benefits of the Equality Act. It stated the newly introduced bill makes it clear the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) could not be applied in the context of civil rights. Religious liberty, a core American value, could not be utilized as a kind of discrimination license. If this bill eventually gets signed into law, it would be the maiden national non-discrimination law benefiting LGBTQ Americans.

About 20 U.S. states have enacted LGBTQ discrimination protections since there is no U.S.-wide law in this respect. The residents of the states enjoy the protections as stated by the Equality Act. Those benefits, however, gets terminated after a person crosses the state border. Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director, Campaign for Southern Equality said “It’s time for Congress to take action and pass federal protections now, because your rights in our country should not depend on your zip code.” Pointing out about a third of all LGBTQ Americans live in the southern states, not a single state in this part of the country has passed protections from all kinds of anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter