U.S. lawmakers on Thursday proposed one of the broadest anti-discrimination bills aimed at giving legal protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people.
According to Time Magazine, the Equality Act, proposed by Democratic senators Jeff Merkley and David Cicilline, would provide legal protection for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, people in the areas of employment, education, housing, public accommodations, jury service, federal funding and credit.
Merkley said in a news conference that while the legalization of same-gender marriage across the United States is step forward in terms of LGBT rights, there is still a lot of work to be done as long as discrimination continues to be commonplace and legal against sexual and gender minorities.
“Discrimination has no place in our nation’s laws... If it’s wrong in marriage, it’s wrong in employment. If it’s wrong in employment it’s wrong in housing. If it’s wrong in housing, it’s wrong in education, jury duty and mortgages. To put it simply, people deserve to live free from fear, free from violence and free from discrimination regardless of who are they love or whom they love,” Merkley said.
There are currently no federal laws in place that protect people from discrimination based on sexual and/or gender identity. Only 21 states prohibit discrimination based on sexual identity, and 18 of those include gender identity.
However, according to the Washington Blade, there is some skepticism regarding the bill, which would amend the Civil Rights Act to include LGBT people.
There is reasonable fear that the amendment would make the Civil Rights Act vulnerable to other revisions by lawmakers hostile to civil rights law. While women rights groups support the bill, no civil rights group representing racial or ethnic minorities have, Washington Blade reported.
Transgender rights advocates have also remained skeptical. The Transgender Law Center embraced the amendment but added that “we must also work to end the detention of transgender immigrants, stop the ongoing criminalization and murder of Black communities, and ensure all transgender and gender nonconforming people have the opportunity to stay alive and thrive as their authentic selves.”