More than 200 members of Congress re-introduced the Equality Act of 2015 earlier this year. The federal bill not only includes anti-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans, but also offers new protections for people of color and women. The Equality Act is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says is long overdue.
The Equality Act and LGBT Americans
The bill would explicitly prohibit gender-identity and sexual orientation-based discrimination and would further expand on existing protections against discrimination against women. The Equality Act would also prevent discrimination under the guise of religion and prevent businesses from discriminating.
This bill is the first of its kind to primarily address the rights of LGBT people to be free from discrimination. Many people may not know that right now there are no federal laws to prevent companies from not hiring candidates because they are LGBT. Landlords can still refuse to rent homes to same-sex couples. Businesses are currently within their rights to refrain from offering products or services to LGBT couples. This would all be illegal under the Equality Act.
Additional protections under the Equality Act
Surprisingly there are still some ways that women are not protected from discrimination in America. Women are not protected from discrimination in places of public accommodation or as potential recipients of federal funds. This means that businesses can refuse to serve a nursing mother or charge a woman more than a man for the same product or service.
The Equality Act would expand the places that federal anti-discrimination laws would reach, including stores, banks, and transportation centers. The bill would also prevent people from using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to override the Civil Rights Act. Business owners would no longer be able to cite religion as a justification to discriminate against LGBT consumers under the Equality Act.
Opposition to the Equality Act
Opponents of the bill call the new protection unnecessary and say it diminishes religious freedom in America. Some Americans feel that the bill needs further refinement to protect LGBT rights while allowing Americans to practice freedom of religion. The Equality Act was originally introduced in 2015 and re-introduced in May 2017. Companies including Facebook, Apple Inc., Google, and Nike publicly supported the Equality Act.
Red Bank Employment Lawyers at the Law Firm of McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Defend the Rights of LGBT Americans
McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. has offices in Marlton, New Jersey and Red Bank, New Jersey to serve clients throughout the state including Middletown, Long Branch, Old Bridge, Freehold, Hazlet, Howell, Wall, Brick, Edison, and East Brunswick.