Building off of the momentum gained from the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on same-sex marriage, Congressional Democrats are organizing a push to pass an Equality Act, adding LGBT Americans to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protecting them from discrimination in seven categories, including housing, education, and public accommodation.
It is precisely the next step the equality movement needed to take; the Supreme Court victory was a huge accomplishment indeed, but the virulent backlash from conservatives looking to score points among evangelicals is enough indication that the LGBT rights movement cannot be content with just the marriage ruling.
One of the sponsors, Rep David Cicilline, (D-RI) outlined the need for this bill in a statement: “In most states, a same-sex couple can get married on Saturday, post pictures on Facebook on Sunday, and then risk being fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment on Monday. A majority of states in our country do not have laws that protect LGBT individuals against discrimination. We need a uniform federal standard that protects all LGBT Americans from discrimination.”
A poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research indicated that 69% of Americans support such a bill- including 51% of Republicans. Unfortunately, it remains to be seen whether or not the bill can garner enough votes to overcome Republican filibusters in both houses of Congress, which are still controlled by Republicans.
At the same time, those Republicans are attempting to push through a completely opposite bill, the First Amendment Defense Act, which purports to defend a bigot’s right to discriminate against LGBT Americans as part of exercising their religious freedom. It remains to be seen which side will triumph, but the highest court in the land and the people have spoken: it’s time for LGBT Americans to take their rightful place in our society, free from discrimination and prejudice. America is a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-gendered society, and it is time for the right wing to accept that the world has moved on without them. This battle over LGBT rights is the GOP’s last desperate grasp for relevancy, and they will pay for it with the future of their party.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.