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senate Bill S. 1858

Adding Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation to the List of Protected Classes

Argument in favor

The law needs to protect those who could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Adding them to the list of protected classes under the Civil Rights Act will give discrimination victims recourse.

Kenny's Opinion
···
08/18/2015
It saddens me to read some of the favors in opposition to this bill. This bill is about whether or not it is the FEDERAL government's responsibility to protect people from discrimination based on gender or sexual identity, or if that responsibility should fall to the individual states. Instead, I'm reading the opinions of uneducated people who don't understand the difference between SEX and GENDER and are uncomfortable with the progress this country is making. Please vote YEA on this bill, because too many people are dying, and we can't wait for the states to catch up on an issue that is this important in the fight for social justice.
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Dudewizard's Opinion
···
08/18/2015
It is no longer the point in human development where we can consider the rights of LGBTQA individuals a "gray area." Anyone who fails to acknowledge this is kidding themselves. Religious beliefs do not take precedence over human rights.
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Michael's Opinion
···
08/18/2015
It has become obvious that some folks think their religious beliefs take precedence over the rights of many citizens despite a SCOTUS ruling on what the law of the land says. Congress needs to take these behaviors into account and clearly protect all citizens from discrimination.
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Argument opposed

States are already adopting laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The federal government shouldn’t compel business owners to engage in activities that go against their religious beliefs.

LibertyForAll's Opinion
···
08/19/2015
Giving groups of people special rights based on race, sexual orientation, gender or religious beliefs is Unconstitutional. Under the current Constitution one already has the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. What the DOJ progresses to do is classify people by who they associate themselves with, not by the merit of the individual.
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Stuart's Opinion
···
08/19/2015
We don't need more classes of protected individuals. We just need to respect each other. You can't legislate all human interactions.
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Stephen's Opinion
···
08/19/2015
Doesn't everyone have a sexual orientation and a gender identity? Everyone would be in the protected class. If everyone is in the protected class, then what's the point? The experts say sexual orientation and gender identity can change. If it can change, it's not in the same category as race and other "protected classes." Are some more important than others? That sounds like special rights. We need to back off of special rights. Undo the ones that exist; certainly not add more.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJuly 23rd, 2015

What is Senate Bill S. 1858?

This bill would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service. It would also prohibit discrimination (through changes to existing civil rights laws) in “public accommodations” and federal funding on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

The definition of public accommodations under the Civil Right Act of 1964 would be expanded to cover nearly every entity that offers goods, services, or programs — including retailers, banks, and transportation or healthcare providers, among others. For example, public bathrooms count as a "public accommodation" — so it would be illegal to deny a person access to a public restroom based on their gender identity.

Sexual orientation and gender identity join the list of already protected classes including race, color, religion, sex, disability status and national origin. This applies to public and private sector entities with at least 15 employees, as well as labor organizations.

Existing religious exemption would remain in place, so religious entities could still hire individuals of a particular faith to do work related to religious activities. However, defendants could not use the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a defense to alleged discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and the Attorney General would be authorized to initiate cases against state and local governments for discrimination that occurs in publicly owned facilities other than public schools and public colleges. Given that sexual orientation and gender identity would be added to the list of protected classes, the DOJ could also intervene in equal protection cases.

Impact

Those who could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, public and private entities, the Dept. of Justice, and the Attorney General.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1858

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: The lead sponsor of this legislation, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), believes that:

“The time has come for us as a nation to be bolder and better in ensuring full rights for the LGBT community. Every person deserves to live free from fear of discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love. Enacting the Equality Act will bring us another significant step forward in our nation’s long march towards inclusion and equality.”

So far this bill has 37 Democratic and two Independent cosponsors in the Senate, and it has not yet been the subject of a markup or any other committee activity.


Of Note: Proponents of this bill cite the 31 states without laws on the books preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. While that doesn’t make it legal to discriminate on those grounds in those states, it does mean that such incidents have to be resolved through the judicial system via other claims — by local governments, or the policies of the company in question.

The enactment of laws in Mississippi and North Carolina preventing trans people from using single-sex restrooms ignited a national debate about discrimination based on a person's gender identity. While similar proposals have been introduced in several other states, they have either stalled, been defeated, or vetoed.

Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Ted Eytan)

AKA

Equality Act

Official Title

A bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes

    It saddens me to read some of the favors in opposition to this bill. This bill is about whether or not it is the FEDERAL government's responsibility to protect people from discrimination based on gender or sexual identity, or if that responsibility should fall to the individual states. Instead, I'm reading the opinions of uneducated people who don't understand the difference between SEX and GENDER and are uncomfortable with the progress this country is making. Please vote YEA on this bill, because too many people are dying, and we can't wait for the states to catch up on an issue that is this important in the fight for social justice.
    Like (246)
    Follow
    Share
    Giving groups of people special rights based on race, sexual orientation, gender or religious beliefs is Unconstitutional. Under the current Constitution one already has the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. What the DOJ progresses to do is classify people by who they associate themselves with, not by the merit of the individual.
    Like (118)
    Follow
    Share
    It is no longer the point in human development where we can consider the rights of LGBTQA individuals a "gray area." Anyone who fails to acknowledge this is kidding themselves. Religious beliefs do not take precedence over human rights.
    Like (147)
    Follow
    Share
    We don't need more classes of protected individuals. We just need to respect each other. You can't legislate all human interactions.
    Like (80)
    Follow
    Share
    Doesn't everyone have a sexual orientation and a gender identity? Everyone would be in the protected class. If everyone is in the protected class, then what's the point? The experts say sexual orientation and gender identity can change. If it can change, it's not in the same category as race and other "protected classes." Are some more important than others? That sounds like special rights. We need to back off of special rights. Undo the ones that exist; certainly not add more.
    Like (72)
    Follow
    Share
    It has become obvious that some folks think their religious beliefs take precedence over the rights of many citizens despite a SCOTUS ruling on what the law of the land says. Congress needs to take these behaviors into account and clearly protect all citizens from discrimination.
    Like (67)
    Follow
    Share
    The 14th Amendment already exists. The government doesn't need to put "protected groups" on a platter. We are all equal. Let's just enforce the Constitutional Amendment that already exists and stop complaining.
    Like (43)
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    People who are in favor of this bill obviously don't have daughters who would experience these repercussions firsthand. Say no to men in women's bathrooms.
    Like (31)
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    We can not allow anyone to be treated like 2nd class citizens. EVERYONE deserves EQUAL PROTECTION!!!!
    Like (30)
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    Everyone is human, we all deserve our basic rights. If it bothers you, ignore it. That simple. Just focus on yourself.
    Like (27)
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    We just need to enforce the 14th Amendment, which already guarantees equal treatment under the law for all citizens, not just "protected classes." Under proposals like this legislation, everyone will be equal, but some people will be more equal than others.
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    Enough already. A protected class must be inherently restricted to non-subjective identification - you cannot just "say" you are a member.
    Like (20)
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    There shouldn't be protected classes. The government should protect all citizens equally.
    Like (17)
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    A protected class? For something that a person can change from day to day?
    Like (17)
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    Come on, when are we just Americans? There are no classes! Only humans!
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    Man up.. There is no need for this. Just do your job and have a productive lifestyle. No need for all this worrying over "protecting gender/sexual identity" half of these people are brainwashed by liberal media anyways
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    This is NOT the 19th century. We actually know sexuality is not simple or straightforward for all humans. Unfortunately, we still live in the midst of patriarchy & religious bigotry on steroids. It is necessary to protect every citizen from discrimination. This isn't rocket science. Just do it!
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    People are discriminated against because of their gender identity and sexual orientation. They should be protected.
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    Considering in the state I live in my friends can be fired for no reason other than being transgendered I definitely say so.
    Like (10)
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    Hell NO. Have people lost the frickin minds?
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