Friday, July 31, 2015

Facing a difficult path

Back in 1974 the Equality Act was introduced to Congress to add sexual orientation to the list of categories in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In 1994 an effort was started to pass a stripped down version, one that prevented discrimination only in employment. Gender identity was added in 2007. Yup, those efforts did not lead to actual laws.

Now the Equality Act is back. It covers both sexual orientation and gender identity and covers the same broad categories of the Civil Rights Act – protections in employment, housing, public accommodation, and such things as equal credit, education, jury selection, and all federal programs. The public accommodation part is expanded and those new areas affect the original categories of the Civil Rights Act, meaning this new bill also expands women's rights. The religious exemptions in the Civil Rights Act are not changed, so there can be no exemption for sexual minorities.

Yes, this is only a bill and it faces a difficult path through Congress, so it may take years. But the LGBT movement is the strongest it has ever been.

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