Equality Act 2021 ~ Let Peace Begin With Us

 Equality Act 2021 ~ Let Peace Begin With Us

Chasten Buttigieg Recalls Coworker Asking Him If He’s A ‘F**’ In Plea To Pass LGBTQ+ Equality Act

Pete Buttigieg's husband on advocacy, supporting the presidential candidate  Video - ABC News

The Equality Act, a piece of legislation prohibitting workplace discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, was recently passed by the House of Representatives.

To gather support for the bill as it’s considered by the Senate, Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, shared the story of one uncomfortable interaction he had while in the workplace.

https://www.comicsands.com/chasten-buttigieg-equality-act-coworker-2650866725.html

It’s time for all humanity to back equality across our beautiful nation and the world. For far too long racism, prejudice, hatred has ruled this planet and we are a diverse species and need to fight back (peacefully). We need to back legislation that respects diversity on all levels. Individually and collectively it’s time for all humanity to practice AHIMSA (do not harm).

Thoughts are deeds. We see every day how words and attitudes can lead to hurt, harm and even death. Our words cut like a knife. Our attitudes hurt others directly or by affecting their self esteem. Leaders who express racism, hatred and bigotry inspire others to act out in ways that are not legal, moral or ethical. While the proponent of the speech or legislative hatred may get away with it initially, they are guilty and need to face their karma. We who witness these heinous things and say and do nothing are guilty as well.

We need to speak out against these atrocities in every way and on all levels. And if we have judgmental, racist, sexist, xenophobic friends and family, we need to educate them (somehow kindly) to the errors of their ways. For if we do not, the slippery slope of harm leads to harming others. And when someone’s life is threatened or they are shamed, criticized, threatened, their self esteem affected, they may end up harming themselves. We must not allow situations where whole classes of people must live in fear or their basic human rights and needs are not met.

Stochastic terrorism manifests its ugly head in many ways. While Trump and his cult, Trumpism mastered this technique, radicalized their cult followers, this technique is not new. Hitler and the Nazi party perfected it and led the planet into WWII leaving millions dead in their wake.

The slippery slope of racism and prejudice can and does lead to harm. Humanity has witnessed this before. The buck stops with us, individually. The end of hatred begins with US. We need to stop it within ourselves then model it for others and fight for it every step of the way by calling it out, giving it a name and fighting for laws to protect us individually and collectively.

The poem “They came for us” was made famous during WWII as the Nazis collected the Jews and killed them in the camps. We must remain hyper vigilant that hatred does not rear it’s ugly head and ends up with police killing brown and black people, children separated and forever traumatized at the border, people living in horrendous conditions on the street, starvation across this planet, people running from war and climate change to threats against our Capital and the good people who serve us, run this government and deserve to feel safe at their jobs like the rest of us.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK- JUNE 28: Flags fly in Foley Square during the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives & Against Police Brutality on June 28, 2020. Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, this year’s march had to be canceled over health concerns. The annual event, which sees millions of attendees, marks it’s 50th anniversary since the first march following the Stonewall Inn riots. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

We are the solution. Peace does begin with us individually. The song, “Let peace begin on Earth and let it begin with me”, is truth. Peace is a concept that must be supported at all times, every day in every way. Injustice, hatred, intolerance must be called out and eradicated by all citizens of the Earth. As we create awareness of the remnants of hatred, racism and prejudice that resides in our subconscious then manifest in our thoughts, deeds and actions, we eliminate negativity and harm on all levels in the world.

The Equality Act is a bill in the United States Congress, that, if passed, would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employmenthousingpublic accommodationspublic educationfederal fundingcredit, and the jury system.[1] The Supreme Court’s June 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia protects “gay and transgender” people in matters of employment, but not in other respects.

As of 2020, 29 states have not outlawed anti-LGBT discrimination, with members of the LGBT community being given little protection at a national level[2][3] and two-thirds of LGBT Americans in the United States reporting facing or having experienced discrimination in their personal lives. The Equality Act seeks to remedy this lack of protection, applying existing state anti-LGBT discrimination laws nationwide.[1]

Some feminists and women’s rights organizations have opposed part of the bill because they say wording which defines sex to include gender identity will harm women’s rights,[4] such as rights to their own sports[5] and their own single-sex spaces such as prisons, locker rooms and shelters.[4] In addition, some religious organizations oppose the bill, which they say is an attack on freedom of religion.[6]

While various similar bills have been proposed since the 1970s, the modern version of the Equality Act was proposed in the 116th United States Congress. It passed the United States House of Representatives on May 17, 2019 in a bipartisan 236–173 vote.[7][8] However, the United States Senate did not act upon the bill after receiving it; even if they had, President Trump signaled that he would have vetoed it.[9] On February 18, 2021, the Act was reintroduced in the 117th Congress. The House passed the Act by a vote of 224 to 206 on February 25, with support from three Republicans. The bill then moved on to the Senate for consideration.[10] Notable speeches were heard by among others Nancy Pelosi.[11]

Purpose and content

See also: LGBT employment discrimination in the United StatesThe Equality Act would uniformly apply anti-LGBT discrimination law in the United States. State anti-discrimination laws as of May 2019:  State law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public employment, private employment, housing, and provision of goods and services  State law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation (but not gender identity) in public employment, private employment, housing, and provision of goods and services  State law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public and private employment, but not in other areas such as housing and provision of goods and services  State law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Some states have similar executive orders, but their scope is limited to only cover public state employees against discrimination.

The Equality Act seeks to incorporate protections against LGBT discrimination into the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, it prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in a wide variety of areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, and credit.[12]

It also seeks to expand existing civil rights protections for people of color,[13] women,[14] and other minority groups by updating the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide:[12][1]

  • Exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays
  • Goods, services, or programs
  • Transportation services

History

Early history (1970s–1990s)

The original Equality Act was developed by U.S. Representatives Bella Abzug (D-NY) and Ed Koch (D-NY) in 1974. The Equality Act of 1974 (H.R. 14752 of the 93rd Congress) sought to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexsexual orientation, and marital status in federally assisted programs, housing sales, rentals, financing, and brokerage services. The bill authorized civil actions by the Attorney General of the United States in cases of discrimination on account of sex, sexual orientation, or marital status in public facilities and public education. On June 27, 1974, H.R. 14752 was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, but did not proceed to a vote in the full United States House of Representatives.[15]

From 1994, the more narrow Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced, but faced opposition over whether transgender Americans would be protected. An expanded version of ENDA which included both sexual orientation and changed sex to gender identity in its protections passed the United States Senate in 2013, but did not advance in the House.[16]

Public opinion

See also: Public opinion of same-sex marriage in the United States

A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in May/June 2019 found that most Americans do not know that LGBT people lack federal protections. Only one-third of respondents knew that such protections do not exist on the basis of transgender identity, and only one-quarter knew that they don’t exist on the basis of lesbian, gay, and bisexual identity.[17][18]

A nationwide and state-by-state poll on the issue conducted throughout 2017 by the Public Religion Research Institute as part of the annual American Values Atlas survey revealed that 70% of Americans, including a majority in every state, supported laws that would protect lesbiangaybisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people against discrimination, while 23% opposed such laws, and 8% had no opinion.[19][20][21]

A nationwide Spry Strategies survey conducted in October 2020 ahead of the presidential election found that 67.55% of Americans either “strongly approved” or “somewhat approved” of passage of the Equality Act when told it would “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity”.[22]

However, the Spry Strategies poll also found that when respondents were asked to agree or disagree that people who had been born male but identified as women should be allowed to participate in women’s sports, 66.96% disagreed and only 19.81% agreed that they should be allowed. On the topic of single-sex spaces, those polled were asked if they agreed or disagreed that the same demographic should be allowed to use female changing rooms (58.3% disagreed/31.03% agreed), serve time in women’s prison (48.19% disagreed/33.81% agreed) or use women’s homeless or domestic violence shelters (53.19% disagreed/31.14% agreed), [22] all circumstances that some critics have stated the Equality Act would make it illegal to prohibit.[4][5]

A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University in April 2019 found that 92% of American voters believed that employers should not be allowed to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or sexual identity, while only 6% believed that employers should be allowed to do so. A wide consensus on this question was found among both Democratic and Republican voters, as well as Independents, although Democratic voters were slightly more likely to believe that this kind of discrimination should be illegal, with only 1% of them believing that employers should be allowed to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or sexual identity.[23]

Support and opposition

Support

The Equality Act is supported by more than 515 national, state and local organizations.[24][25][26] These include national organizations related to human rights and social justice, such as American Civil Liberties UnionAnti-Defamation LeagueGLSENHuman Rights CampaignHuman Rights WatchSouthern Poverty Law CenterLambda Legal, the National Organization for WomenNAACP, and the AARP.

Supporting organizations include those from national professional organizations, such as the American Psychological AssociationAmerican Medical AssociationAmerican Counseling AssociationAmerican Federation of TeachersAmerican Bar Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the National PTA.[27]

The act is supported by over 180 American businesses and the US Chamber of Commerce.[28][29] These include internet and technology companies such as AppleGoogleMicrosoftAmazoneBayIBMFacebookAirbnbTwitterIntel, and Netflix. Other companies supporting the act include VisaMastercardAbercrombie & FitchAlaska Airlines, and American Airlines.

Furthermore, many celebrities have expressed their support for the Equality Act and urged Congress to pass it. These include Alexandra Billings,[30] Karamo Brown,[31] Gloria Calderón Kellett,[32] Charlie Carver,[33] Max Carver,[33] Nyle DiMarco,[34] Sally Field,[35] Marcia Gay Harden,[36] Dustin Lance Black,[37] Jaime Lee Curtis,[38] Jane Lynch,[39] Justina Machado,[40] Adam Rippon,[41] Taylor Swift,[42][43][44] Bella Thorne,[45] and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.[46]

Feminist/Women’s groups in favor of the Equality Act legislation include but are not limited to the National Organization for Women,[27] 9to5: the National Association of Working Women,[27] the Coalition of Labor Union Women,[27] Feminist Majority,[27] Girls, Inc.,[27] Jewish Women International,[27] The National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda,[27] NARAL,[27] MANA, A National Latina Organization,[27] MomsRising,[27] National Alliance to End Sexual Violence,[27] National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF),[27] National Association for Female Executives,[27] National Women’s Health Network,[27] National Women’s Law Center,[27] Planned Parenthood,[27] Positive Women’s Network-USA,[27] and United State of Women[27] to name a few.

The Women’s Sports FoundationAthlete Ally, along with Megan RapinoeBillie Jean KingCandace Parker and 176 current and former athletes in women’s sports have spoken up for full LGBTQ inclusion in sports, including of transgender athletes.[47]

Religious organizations and registered charities that have given public support to the act include Advocates for Youth, and various Catholic leaders and lobbying organizations such as Father James Martin, S.J.,[48] Network,[49] and DignityUSA.[50] Catholic theologian and nun Joan Chittister released a statement saying that the Equality Act “…must be passed, must be extended, and must be lived if religion itself is to be true”.[51]

Other faiths groups and organizations that have publicly supported the act include the Episcopal Church,[52] The United Methodist Church,[52] The United Church of Christ,[53] the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,[27] More Light Presbyterians,[27] African American Ministers in Action,[27] The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists,[27] The Union for Reform Judaism,[52] United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism,[52] the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association,[27] Muslims for Progressive Values,[27] the Hindu American Foundation,[27] and the Unitarian Universalist Association.[52]

Opposition

Some feminists and women’s rights organizations have opposed wording in the bill which defines sex to include gender identity.[4] They maintain that this endangers the sex-based rights of women and girls, citing female’s right to their own sports[5] and their own spaces such as locker rooms, prisons, and shelters for privacy and safety[4] is in danger of being lost.

Women’s groups including the Women’s Human Rights Campaign USA (WHRC USA),[54] the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF),[55] Feminists in Struggle (FiST),[56] Standing for Women,[57] and Save Women’s Sports[58] have all advocated for the bill not to be passed unless it is first amended to protect sex and not gender identity. Both WHRC USA and FIST have proposed amendments to the Act.[59][56]

In 2019, Wall Street Journal writer Abigail Shrier argued that passage of the Equality Act would put women and girls at physical risk by allowing any biological male to self-identify as female and gain access to women’s spaces such as locker rooms and battered-women’s shelters. In addition, she stated that “biological boys who identify as girls would gain an instant entitlement to compete on girls’ teams in all 50 states.”[60]

In 2019, a bipartisan event featuring women’s rights and lesbian rights activists from the US, Canada and the UK was organized in Washington D.C. by the group Standing for Women. Speakers urged women to oppose all laws that would undermine their sex-based rights.[61]

A 2019 article in the Federalist described the Equality Act as a “power grab in the guise of anti-discrimination”, stating that it essentially abolishes legal recognition of sex as a physical reality by incorporating gender identity, or the “perception of sex”, into the legal definition.[62]

Georgia State University criminology professor Callie H. Burt published a paper in the June 2020 issue of Feminist Criminology in which she examined the potential effects of the Equality Act on women’s rights. While acknowledging that the Act is “laudable in its aims”, Burt lamented the lack of scrutiny and discussion by Democratic representatives in Congress into the real consequences the Act’s “imprecise language” would bring to women:

“The result is the erosion of females’ provisions, which include sex-separated spaces (e.g., prisons, locker rooms, shelters), opportunities and competitions (e.g., awards, scholarships, sports), and events (e.g., meetings, groups, festivals)…HR5 fails to strike an appropriate balance between the rights, needs, and interests of two marginalized (and overlapping) groups—trans people and females—and instead prioritizes the demands of trans people over the hard-won rights of female people.”[4]

The Economist stated in October 2020 that the Act as written endangers the rights of women in areas such as sports, where they would be at a physical disadvantage having to compete against transwomen, and in spaces previously segregated by biological sex, such as public bathrooms and prisons, stating that “parts of the bill appear to put the needs of transgender people above those of women. This is because the act redefines ‘sex’ in Title IX and other amendments of the Civil Rights Act to include ‘gender identity; rather than making transgenderism a protected category of its own. Its definition of ‘gender identity’ is fuzzy and appears to downplay the reality of sex.”[63]

Douglas Laycock told NPR that the law is “less necessary” now, after the Bostock decision, and that the bill goes too far in limiting people’s ability to defend themselves against discrimination claims saying “it protects the rights of one side, but attempts to destroy the rights of the other side.”[64]

Some religious leaders oppose the bill for multiple reasons, saying for example that it would infringe on religious liberty.[65][6]

On March 20, 2019, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter addressed to the United States Senate that opposed the Equality Act on the grounds of freedom of expression and freedom of religion, among other concerns.[66]

On May 7, 2019, a coalition of Christian organizations sent a letter to the House of Representatives to state opposition to the Equality Act, which they said “undermines religious freedom, and threatens charitable nonprofits and the people they serve, regulates free speech, hinders quality health care, and endangers the privacy and safety of women and girls.” In addition to four committee chairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, signers included leaders from the Christian Legal Society, the Center for Law and Religious Freedom, the Center for Public Justice, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty (affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod), the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, and the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance.[67]

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said that “The Equality Act is the most comprehensive assault on religious liberty, the right to life, and privacy rights ever packaged into one bill.” Donohue also stated his concern that “Catholic hospitals would no longer be allowed to govern as Catholic facilities, threatening healthcare for everyone, especially the poor.”[68]

On May 16, 2019, Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association sent a letter to lawmakers in the House expressing concern that the Act, as written, would roll back religious liberty protections. “Federal law has long recognized that certain services can present conflict for some faith-based health care providers with religious or moral objections to providing those services, and protected them from having to do so. We are concerned that the Equality Act omits and could erode or reduce those protections.” The legislation, she said, “lacks conscience protection language and precludes application of RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act).”[69]

The American Family Association published an article in April 2019 opposing the Act.[70]

On May 13, 2019, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement that read in part, “The Equality Act now before Congress is not balanced and does not meet the standard of fairness for all. While providing extremely broad protections for LGBT rights, the Equality Act provides no protections for religious freedom”.[6][71]

The Heritage Foundation has argued that the Act would adversely affect five groups of people (employers and workers; medical professionals; parents and children; non-profit organizations and their volunteers; and women), and they describe specific harms the Foundation believes each group would experience from the Act’s passage.[72]

Presidents’ stances

Barack Obama

See also: Social policy of the Barack Obama administration § LGBT issues

President Obama and Vice President Biden voiced support for the Equality Act when it was first introduced in the 114th United States Congress.[73][74]

Donald Trump

See also: Social policy of Donald Trump § LGBT issues

The Trump Administration opposed the Equality Act. In August 2019, the White House issued a statement, “The Trump Administration absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind and supports the equal treatment of all; however, the House-passed bill in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.” [75]

Joe Biden

See also: Social policy of Joe Biden § LGBT issues

President Biden and Vice President Harris are vocal defenders of the Equality Act, issuing a statement from the White House, “I applaud Congressman David Cicilline and the entire Congressional Equality Caucus for introducing the Equality Act in the House of Representatives yesterday, and I urge Congress to swiftly pass this historic legislation. Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all.”[76]

Legislative activity

114th Congress

H.R. 3185

On July 23, 2015, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the Equality Act of 2015 in the United States House of Representatives. The bill was supported by President Barack Obama.[73]

In January 2016, Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) became the first Republican Representative to co-sponsor the bill.[77] Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) became the second Republican to co-sponsor the bill in September 2016. Jenniffer González (R-PR) also co-sponsored the bill.[78]

S. 1858

On July 23, 2015, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Equality Act of 2015 in the United States Senate.

In January 2016, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) became the first and only Republican Senator to co-sponsor the bill.

All Democrats and Independents cosponsored the bill with the exception of Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

115th Congress

H.R. 2282

On May 2, 2017, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the Equality Act of 2017 in the United States House of Representatives.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) was the only Republican to co-sponsor the bill from the outset, with Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) becoming the second Republican to co-sponsor the bill on May 26, 2017.

S. 1006

On May 2, 2017, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Equality Act of 2017 in the United States Senate.

All Democrats and Independents cosponsored the bill with the exceptions of Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

116th Congress

H.R. 5

On March 13, 2019, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the Equality Act of 2019 in the United States House of Representatives. The bill is sponsored by 237 Democrats and 3 Republicans. On May 1, 2019, the bill passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 22-10, with all Democratic members of the committee voting in favor and all Republican members against.[79] A vote by the full House was held on May 17, 2019; the vote carried with 236 votes for and 173 against. Eight Republicans voted in favor of the bill and no Democrats opposed it.[7][80]

S. 788

On March 13, 2019, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Equality Act of 2019 in the United States Senate. The bill was sponsored by 43 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 1 Republican.

117th Congress

H.R. 5

On February 18, 2021, the Act was reintroduced to the House of Representatives. It was passed by the House for the second time on February 25, 2021, and now moves on to the Senate.[10] Among Republican Representatives, only Tom ReedJohn Katko, and Brian Fitzpatrick voted in favor; fewer than in the previous Congress. Mario Díaz-Balart and Elise Stefanik previously voted in favor but now voted against.

S. 393

On February 23, 2021, a companion bill was introduced in the Senate. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee, where it awaits debate. It has, as of February 26 2021, 48 co-sponsors.[81]

Legislative history

As of March 3, 2021:

CongressShort titleBill number(s)Date introducedSponsor(s)# of cosponsorsLatest status
114th CongressEquality Act of 2015H.R. 3185July 23, 2015David Cicilline
(D-RI)
178Died in committee
S. 1858July 23, 2015Jeff Merkley
(D-OR)
42Died in committee
115th CongressEquality Act of 2017H.R. 2282May 2, 2017David Cicilline
(D-RI)
198Died in committee
S. 1006May 2, 2017Jeff Merkley
(D-OR)
47Died in committee
116th CongressEquality Act of 2019H.R. 5March 13, 2019David Cicilline
(D-RI)
240Passed the House[7]
S. 788March 13, 2019Jeff Merkley
(D-OR)
46Died in committee
117th CongressEquality Act of 2021H.R. 5February 18, 2021David Cicilline
(D-RI)
224Passed the House[10]
S. 393February 23, 2021Jeff Merkley
(D-OR)
48Referred to Judiciary committee[82]

Supreme Court ruling on Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia

On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender people in employment. LGBTQ rights advocates welcomed the ruling and reaffirmed support for passage of the Equality Act, stating that the ruling only covered employment, and in many states, LGBTQ people still lack non-discrimination protections in housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and jury service which would be covered under the Equality Act.[83][84][85] The ruling said that the Civil Rights Act protects “gay and transgender” people in matters of employment but left the terms undefined.[86][87]

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