A bill that would ban LGBT discrimination in all areas of civil rights law is set to be presented in both chambers of Congress on Thursday, and like most legitimately good ideas in government these days, is expected to fail.
According to a “Dear Colleague” letter dated July 20 and obtained by the Washington Blade, the soon-to-be proposed Equality Act targets seven areas to explicitly protect LGBT people: credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service and public accommodations.
The bill shares a name with the first ever federal gay rights bill introduced by the late Rep. Bella Abzug of New York City along with New York City Representative and future NYC mayor Ed Koch in 1974. That bill sought to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation, but wasn’t passed.
Given our current Congress’ strong Republican leanings (their largest majority since the Truman administration), the new Equality Act will likely meet the same fate as the previous one.
The bill’s introduction comes just one week after the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, created to enforce and implement the 1964 Civil Rights Act, ruled that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is covered under gender protections.
Still, advocates emphasize the importance of adding explicit language to employment law to make absolute certain that LGBT protections are enforced.
It remains unclear if this new legislation will seek to amend the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act or implement a new set of laws that would provide comprehensive protection another way.
Sadly, it probably won’t matter as these issues aren’t pressing for the majority of the Republican party. The Blade points out that if any LGBT-related legislation is likely to see movement in the current congress, it may be the First Amendment Defense Act, a religious freedom bill seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination.