SAME hosts forum on GLBT civil rights
Proposed ‘omnibus’ bill seeks full federal equality
Published Thursday, 29-Apr-2010 in issue 1166
Members of the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality (SAME) hosted a forum on GLBT civil rights at the San Diego LGBT Community Center on April 18.
At the forum, speakers discussed the emergence of a new national GLBT network organization and an “omnibus” legislative proposal written by the founders of eQualityGiving.org, an online GLBT donation group, to implement full GLBT equality at the national level.
“Cleve Jones said, ‘You need to label what you want. Label your end game.’ Well be moving around the chest pieces, but here is what were working towards, said Equal Roots Coalition Director of Political Action Tanner Efinger about the proposed legislation called the Equality & Religious Freedom Act. “You want our agenda? Well this is it. It’s about equal protection in all fifty states, in all matters govern by civil law.”
The proposed legislation would amend and or expand on federal civil rights legislation that either do not cover or out right discriminate against GLBT people to include protections/rights for them.
For example, the Equality & Religious Freedom Act would expand on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991 by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as prohibited bases for discrimination in employment. The proposed legislation would also repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and replace it with a policy that allows GLBT people to serve openly in the military.
“What’s really important about this bill is that we actually can have a piece of legislation that gives us full equality, Efinger said. “This is what was really missing at the National Equality March. This is something to point at.”
“This could serve as a starting point on what federal equality could look like,” said SAME member Jose Medina, who outlined the proposed legislation at the forum. “Its an attempt to get people to think about we can do together from a legislative perspective.”
In addition to discussing the proposed GLBT equality legislation, forum speakers also discussed the emergence of a new national GLBT network organization called Equality Across America (EAA).
EAA emerged from the board that organized last year’s National Equality March in Washington, D.C.
“We are a network of organizers who share a common call to action and believe there is strength in unity and are fighting for full federal equality,” Efinger said, who is also an EAA board member.
According to EAA, the organization has 30,000 people on its email list, a $100,000 in the bank and roughly 150 groups connected with the organization already.
“It’s important to have a national grassroots network like Equality Across America because there isn’t one that currently exists,” said SAME Membership Coordinator Joshua Napier.
Efinger said EAA doesn’t tell the organizations or groups that are apart of its network how they should run.
“Our organization is from the bottom up. Its not meant to cut anyone or tell anyone what to do. We don’t want to say, ‘Well here is the only right way to go about fighting for equality.’ You are who you are,” Efinger said. “All we want is to bring grassroots groups that are fighting for full federal equality to start working together and open the lines of communication up.”
For more information about EAA, visit http://equalityacrossamerica.org.
The Equality & Religious Freedom Act Proposal
The following is a summary of the proposed act’s legislative changes:
Employment: Expands on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, and the Government Employee Rights Act of 1991 to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as prohibited bases for discrimination in employment.
Medical leave: Amends the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to clarify the definitions of “parent”, “son or daughter” and “spouse.”
Housing: Amends the Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act) to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as prohibited basis for discrimination in the sale or rental of housing, real-estate related transactions, and the provision of brokerage services.
Public accommodation: Amends Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as prohibited basis for discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation.
Public space: Amends §2000b of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as prohibited basis’ for denial of equal use of public facilities.
Credit: Amends the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as prohibited basis for discrimination in any aspect of a credit transaction.
Federal programs: Amends Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as prohibited basis for discrimination in federally funded programs or activities and adding an exemption for religious organizations.
Education: Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, to include the categories “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in the Civil Rights section, and amends the Americans with Disabilities Act to repeal discriminatory provisions
Marriage: Amends the “Defense of Marriage Act” to remove provisions that discriminate based on sex or sexual orientation and providing an exemption for clergy and religious organizations.
Hate crimes: Amends the 1969 hate crimes statute, Title 18, Chapter 13, to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Military service: Repeals the Armed Forces’ “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and replacing it with a policy of nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
Immigration: Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to grant permanent partners immigration rights consistent with those of spouses