What does the Civil Rights Act of 1964 have to do with LGBT rights?
At the moment, nothing. The Act, which protects Americans from discrimination based on race, religion, gender, and origin, mentions nothing about sexual orientation or gender identity.
Luckily, that might be about to change.
H.R.2282 better known as the Equality Act (EA), is a bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act to include sexuality under its protection from discrimination. (Read the full text of the bill here) The Civil Rights Act was arguably the most important law to be passed regarding the Civil Rights Movement – it ensured integration in public spaces, and protects against discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, or nationality.
So why would the Equality Act be important? To put it simply, it would protect the LGBTQA community from some of the discrimination it faces today. The amendment to the Civil Rights Act would put a stop to “no gays allowed” in public spaces, and would ensure that sexuality and gender identity cannot be used as grounds for refusal for a job, rejection of loans, firing, etc.
The bill acknowledges the unfair challenges the LGBTQA community faces on a normal basis, citing restricted access to public places, job loss, and even “conversion therapy” as justification for the bill. For more information on the goals and purpose of the EA, read this excellent article from NBC News.
So when can we expect to see a vote on this game changer? Unfortunately, not anytime soon. The bill is still circulating the House Committees, and if history is any example, we can expect to wait a while for the EA to become a front burner issue. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of waiting for social equality to become a priority in Washington.
That’s where we come in.
As citizens of the US, we have the privilege and the responsibility of giving feedback to our government. Call your local Congressperson or Senator, write emails, send letters (YES, you can still send snail mail) and tell them we want to see the Equality Act passed, and soon!
Start the conversation about LGBTQA rights and the EA in your own community, wherever that might be; it’s up to us to facilitate this Act and get it up there on the voting agenda. Leave a comment and tell me how you feel about the EA and what you want to see Congress! After all, that’s what makes America great in the first place – We the People can be the change we want to see.
(For more information see the Human Rights Campain’s article on the EA)