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Here’s What You Need to Know about the Equal Rights Act of 2015

By Dan Atkerson on August 05, 2015

Male Female SymbolsThe Civil Rights Act of 1964 is potentially getting a little work done soon as a proposed amendment makes its way through legislation. The Equal Rights Act of 2015 will be an addendum that essentially adds the phrase “sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity” to the existing list of classes protected from discrimination, “race, color, religion, and national origin.” Here are a few important points to know about this bill in regards to how it will affect the LGBT community and discrimination in the workplace.

  • This is not the first time that a bill of this type has been proposed, but none have yet made it through. The previous bills were more specific as well, whereas this bill is a much more sweeping concept. Officials say there isn’t any definable reason as to the previous failures, citing bad timing or focus on another bill.
  • The time really is now. After the Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage legal across the country, this bill NEEDS to be pushed through. As it is right now, it is still legal in many states for an employer to discriminate and fire a LBGT person. As Vice President Joe Biden said in July: “There are 32 states where marriage can be recognized in the morning and you can be fired in the afternoon.”
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has made a ruling that includes anti-LGBT discrimination under gender discrimination. There is currently in place a level of protection against LGBT discrimination because of this, but it is important to note that it is only a commission ruling and does not hold the same power as a federal law.
  • There are still those out there that support equal rights and anti-LGBT discrimination, but do not support the Equal Rights Act. Opposition to the bill has stated that opening up the 1964 Civil Rights Act to amendments is a dangerous path and that the better option would be to create a standalone bill.
With this controversial bill being pushed through right now, there is a small possibility that it will become federal law later, but odds are that it won’t. It is hard to get anything to pass through the current political climate, especially something as large as this Equal Rights Act that would affect eight different sectors including employment, housing, schools, legal protection, jury service, credit, federal funding, and public accommodations.

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