Friday, July 24, 2015

Fear For Many Parents Will Be Eased

As the straight parent of a gay child, you fear for your child.  Will he/she be beaten up, picked on in school, fired from a job, have to live in certain areas that are designated as gay-friendly just because of his/her sexual orientation? In most of the U.S, states, it is legal to fire and evict a gay person due to his sexual orientation. It’s probably not all that different than a heterosexual parent worrying about their straight child who is black, Hispanic or another minority.  When prejudice rears its ugly head, the LGBT child, and yes, the LGBT adult, will be considered belonging to a minority group and therefore will be targeted.

Add-Ons to Civil Rights Act of 1964

There are civil rights protections in The Civil Rights Act of 1964 yet they do not cover protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. On Thursday, July 23rd, two Democratic Senators Cicilline and Merkley with a co-sponsor Sean Maloney introduced legislation to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to its list of already protected classes: discrimination in credit, education, employment, housing, federal financial assistance, jury service and public accommodations.

Compared to the 2013 Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), this federal LGBT non-discrimination Equality Act is much broader.  It covers all areas of law. It had passed the Senate, but was never brought up for a vote in the House by Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio.

Republicans Fear Squelch of Religious Freedom

By amending the Civil Rights Act, some are afraid that you will weaken the Act itself. Conservatives would rather have the First Amendment Defense Act that would bar the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person.  If, for example, that person is opposed to same-sex marriage, she would be protected.  This would include for-profit corporations acting in accordance with their religious beliefs.

The Equality Act would settle some of the debates presented by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Indiana, by adding LGBT protections in public accommodations.  It would also clarify that the federal RFRA can’t be used as a defense for discrimination.

End Results

If the Equality Act goes through, fewer bakery doors will be slammed in the faces of same-sex couples and straight parents may rest a whole lot easier.