U.S. lawmakers, on the week of July 20, introduced sweeping legislation that would give federal protections to LGBT Americans in a number of categories.
The legislation, known as the Equality Act, essentially extends to the LGBT community the same rights afforded to other groups under the Civil Rights Act and other laws, and broadly covers areas such as public accommodations, public education, federal funding, employment, housing and credit. It was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. David Cicilline ( D-R.I. ) and in the Senate by Sens. Jeff Merkley ( D-Ore. ), Tammy Baldwin ( D-Wis. ) and Cory Booker ( D-N.J. ).
Political observers do not expect the Equality Act to pass this session, but advocates hope that the legislation will begin to gain traction and lay the groundwork for an expansion of federal LGBT rights.
"Discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity is commonplace in America," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard, on July 23, in a statement. "It occurs every day in our schools, in the workplace, when people apply for housing, when seeking medical treatment and in simple day-to-day activities that many of us take for granted. Our most recent National School Climate Survey revealed that 56 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) youth experienced discriminatory school policies and practices. While schools must improve their policies, a comprehensive solution based in civil rights protections is needed."
James Esseks, director of the LGBT Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, added, on July 23, "Today is a historic day that has been decades in the making. The Equality Act would transform the lives of countless women and LGBT people. Our country's most basic promise of equal treatment under the law will never be real if you fear losing your job, being kicked out of your home, denied access to healthcare or turned away from a business because of who you are. Both the lack of clear and explicit federal protections for LGBT people and the lack of protections for women in core areas of American life are unacceptable. We urge Congress to take up this landmark bill and make our country a more just nation for all."
A study released by the Los Angeles-based Williams Institute on July 23 suggested that the Equality Act would extend protections for 9.5 million Americans.
View related item at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Federal-Nondiscrimination-Bill-introduced-in-Congress/52269.html .