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Democrats set to introduce sweeping LGBT rights bill in Congress

Megan Boyanton July 21, 2015

The Democratic Party is reportedly planning to propose a broad bill LGBT rights bill this week in Congress – despite a Republican majority.

The Republicans currently control both Houses of Congress, and last year blocked the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – which included vital protections for LGBT workers – from coming to a vote.

However, amid building momentum on LGBT issues following the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, Democrats are hoping that the time could be right to push through the rights laws.

Deemed the Equality Act, new legislation is set to be introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives on LGBT rights for the first time since the SCOTUS marriage decision.

According to BuzzFeed, Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline is actively seeking co-sponsors for the bill in the House.

He reportedly said in a letter seeking co-sponsors: “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.”

While the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that other laws cover protection for the LGBT community, the Equality Act would provide more specific guidelines for a broader range of issues.

In the House, Rep. Cicilline is set to introduce the bill- which will defend LGBT rights in housing, education, employment and other divisions- this week.

Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley plans to introduce similar legislation in the Senate within the next few days.

American Civil Liberties Union spokeswoman Allison Steinberg told BuzzFeed: “Open for business means open for all.

“A public serving business owner can’t turn someone away because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, nor should they be allowed to deny someone service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Earlier this month, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided that sexual orientation-based discrimination in the workplace is illegal.

While the ruling exists as a federal ban, only 22 states have individual laws against such prejudice.

Recently, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s views on LGBT rights have progressed from his party’s, as he publicly stated his support for state laws against LGBT discrimination.

Bush said: “I don’t think you should be discriminated because of your sexual orientation. Period. Over and out.”

At the end of last year, however, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which aimed to protect the LGBT community in employment, was blocked from coming to a vote.

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