LGBT rights bill faces US Republican hostilityWorld | 17 May 2019 2:35 pm
Democrats in the US House are poised to approve sweeping anti-discrimination legislation that would extend civil rights protections to LGBT people by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas.
Dubbed the Equality Act, the bill is a top priority of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said it will bring the US “closer to equal liberty and justice for all.”
Sexual orientation and gender identity “deserve full civil rights protections - in the workplace and in every place, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations,” Pelosi said.
A vote on the bill is scheduled for Friday.
The legislation’s chief sponsor, David Cicilline, said it affirms fairness and equality as core American values “and ensures members of the LGBTQ community can live their lives free from the fear of legal discrimination of any kind.”
Cicilline, who is gay, called equal treatment under the law a founding principle of the United States, adding “It’s absurd that, in 2019, members of the LGBTQ community can be fired from their jobs, denied service in a restaurant or get thrown out of their apartment because of their sexual orientation or gender identify.”
Most Republicans oppose the bill and call it another example of government overreach. At a news conference Thursday, they said the bill would jeopardize religious freedom by requiring acceptance of a particular ideology about sexuality and sexual identity.
Vicky Hartzler, called the legislation “grossly misnamed” and said it is “anything but equalizing.”
The bill “hijacks” the 1964 Civil Rights Act to create “a brave new world of ‘discrimination’ based on undefined terms of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Hartzler said. The legislation threatens women’s sports, shelters and schools, and could silence female athletes, domestic abuse survivors and other women, she said.
A similar bill in the Senate has been co-sponsored by all but one Senate Democrat, but faces long odds in the Republican-controlled chamber.
President Donald Trump is widely expected to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. An administration official who asked not be identified, because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the president’s intentions, said the administration “opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all. However, this bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.”-AP