Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Forty years after Rep. Abzug filed Equality Act of 1974, LGBT elected officials lack such vision

40th Anniversary of the filing of the proposed Equality Act of 1974

From Queer Nation NY :

Forty years ago today, Bella Abzug quietly introduced legislation in the House that would have added sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. With a single reference in the Congressional Record reading “H.R. 14752. A bill to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary,” Abzug made the very bold statement that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are entitled to the same rights and protections that are extended to every other American. That statement is as bold and as true today as it was 40 years ago.

The next year, Abzug took to the House floor to introduce the legislation again.

“This bill would insure that gay individuals would be entitled to jobs, to housing, to education, to utilization of public accommodations, to participation in federally assisted programs, on the same basis as other Americans and would be provided with a legal remedy if such rights and opportunities were denied to them,” the New York Democrat said in 1975.

"What is at issue here is equal rights for all Americans,” she said. “Equal protection of the laws and respect for the rights of individuals are fundamental principles of our Constitution. I have long been a proponent of measures which would insure that these principles are guaranteed for all individuals -- women as well as men, married individuals as well as those who are unmarried, people of every nationality, ethnic groups, race, or religion. Likewise, sexual orientation should be no barrier to equal treatment under the law."

In 2014, our political leaders lack such a vision. They consider only what they believe can be won using focus group-tested rhetoric and slick ad campaigns. Their views are driven by polling and what the Democratic and Republican parties will tolerate. And so they will spend millions to enact legislation such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that only bans employment discrimination and has religious exemptions that are so broad that our leading legal groups have refused to support it.

What remains true, whether any poll produces this result or not, is that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans are equal in every way and in all things to every other American. The sole exception to this principle, which is rooted in the founding documents of this nation and in the founding of our community, is that we are not equal before the law.

ENDA will not make us equal before the law. On the contrary, its religious exemption will enshrine discrimination in federal law and guarantee that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people will continue to experience discrimination in employment.

Only comprehensive federal civil rights legislation will make us equal under the law. It is time for us to seek that and to win that.

No comments:

Post a Comment