241 members of congress have come forward to announce their support of the reintroduction of a 2015 bill that amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to expand its civil rights protections to American citizens who identify as LGBT.
The bill currently protects racial and religious minorities from discrimination in housing, employment, education and several other public programs. However, advocates of the bill, titled the Equality Act, believe that LGBT Americans deserve to be offered the same protections and guarantee of rights.
The move to reintroduce the bill is championed by David Cicilline, a Democratic congressman from Rhode Island.
“Today in most states, you can get married on Saturday, post your wedding photos on Facebook on Sunday, and get fired from your job or kicked out of your apartment on Monday just because [you’re LGBT],” Cicilline said in a press conference. Democratic senators Jeff Merkley, Cory Booker and Tammy Baldwin are also vocal proponents of the bill.
The reintroduction of the bill comes at a time when LGBT issues are at the forefront of the political discourse. President Trump campaigned on a promise of protecting LGBT rights, going so far as to pose with a rainbow flag at a campaign stop. However, those critical of Trump on LGBT issues say that it’s all talk.
“It is clear this White House will be an obstacle, not an advocate, in the fight for full LGBT equality,” Nancy Pelosi said, emphasizing that the rights of transgendered persons were of particular concern.
It was once believed that the legalization of gay marriage was the final fight to be won in the struggle for LGBT rights. However, even with the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, it seems that the fight for LGBT rights continues. After gay marriage became legal, there were many documented cases of private businesses, particularly bakeries, refusing to provide their services for same-sex weddings. While some believe that these businesses have the right to serve or not serve people as they see fit, others see this trend as clearcut discrimination.
“When it comes to members of our LGBTQ community, there’s no question that our nation has made significant strides [forward], but we have so far to go,” Pelosi said.
While President Trump maintains that he’s an advocate for LGBT Americans, his administration has expressed support for the rights of private business owners to serve or not serve people at their discretion. Trump is rumored to be soon signing an executive order that would guarantee religious freedom to private businesses, which would mean that business owners could turn away gay customers on the grounds that serving them would be an infringement of their personal religious values.
Trump’s executive order, of course, would be at direct odds with the laws that the Equality Act would put into practice. Champions of the bill believe that Trump is an enemy to the LGBT population and that his executive order would be discriminatory.
“The Equality Act will once and for all end the unacceptable patchwork of non-discrimination laws across this [country],” the president of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group, said in a statement. “Every American should have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families and live their lives without fear of discrimination. [At] its core, that’s what the Equality Act is all about.”
While it remains to be seen how or if Trump will go forward with the executive order that would contradict the Equality Act, one thing is for sure: The issue of LGBT rights is not going away anytime soon.