With the Obama administration’s backing of The Equality Act, we break it down and see why the LGBT community is so excited about this piece of legislation.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration made headlines when they officially put out a statement saying they would back The Equality Act that is currently in Congress. So what is The 2015 Equality Act and why are so many saying that it could be landmark legislation for the LGBT community? Let’s break it down in our 10-Point Expert!
Point 1: The 2015 Equality Act essentially expands the Civil Rights Act – originally passed in 1965 and considered one of the crowning achievements of the Civil Rights Era – to include the LGBT community within its language. That means legally individuals will be protected based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity at workplaces, housing, education, and other public places (restaurants, hotels, stores, ect).
Point 2: It was introduced last July by Democrats Sen. Jeff Merkley (Oregon), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin), Sen. Cory Booker (New Jersey), and Rep. David N. Cicilline (Rhode Island).
Point 3: The Equality Act, if passed, would easily be the most extensive LGBT rights bill in US history!
Point 4: Currently there are only 19 states that grant LGBT individuals various degrees of civil rights protections. While that is still a relatively small number of states, the sad truth is not all rights are covered within those state provisions. According to the Human Rights Watch, while some of the 19 states cover all the rights granted by the Civil Rights Act, others only cover specific portions with some giving no consideration to gender identity.
Point 5: Due to the lack of civil rights laws in the US, according to an LGBT advocacy group called the Movement Advancement Project, more than half of the LGBT community live in a state where they can be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That means in these states, an employer can fire an individual because they’re gay without any legal repercussions!
Point 6: The Equality Act wouldn’t just extend to adult individuals in the LGBT community, but to those in the K-12 public school system as well. Any measures dealing with K-12 education tend to be separate from other public areas like workplaces or restaurants, so it’s important that they are also included in the bill.
Point 7: Currently only 13 states have laws banning discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation in K-12 public schools. That means in 37 states, there aren’t any provisions in place to protect LGBT students from discrimination!
Point 8: As stated above, on Tuesday the Obama administration officially came out in support of The Equality Act. Many are saying this is a huge victory in of itself, considering how little attention has been paid to LGBT rights by past presidencies and that the bill is being introduced to a larger audience.
Point 9: The acceptance of the LGBT community in the last couple of years means that Americans views on the subject are changing. According to a Pew Research study, in a ten year period (2003-2013) acceptance of homosexuality in society changed from 47% to 60%.
Point 10: Unfortunately, even with strides made to the acceptance of LGBT individuals in society, the 2015 Equality Act doesn’t have the best odds of passing in Congress. With a Republican controlled Congress in both the House and Senate, they have shown little to no interest of passing the measure.
(Photo Credits: WhiteHouse.gov, The Movement Advancement Project website)