Newtown News of Interest
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March 14, 2021 10:46 AM!

Bucks County LGBTQ group embraces passage of Equality Act

Bucks County LGBTQ group embraces passage of Equality Act | Newtown News of Interest |

The passage of the Equality Act by the House has cleared one if its two major hurdles. The next, passing the Senate, will require a herculean effort by LGBTQ+ proponents and senators alike.


The Equality Act extends anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ+ individuals, prohibiting "discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system."


Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.


The Equality Act amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to allow the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.


The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual's gender identity.


[For more details about the Equality Act, listen to the comments made by Kevin Antoine - Chief Diversity Equity Inclusion Officer at Bucks County Community College – at the March 11, 2021, Commemoration of the passage of Newtown’s LOVE is LOVE Resolution]


While the House passed the bill, the legislation now faces a steep uphill climb in the Senate, where some prominent members, include Maine Sen. Susan Collins, are on record as opposing the Equality Act in its present home.


Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said he will vote to pass the bill, however.


"The Equality Act puts into law a simple yet vitally important principle: that no person should be discriminated against at work, in public education, in housing, in jury service, at restaurants or other places of public accommodation because they are LGBTQ+," Casey said. "Our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors deserve equal protection under the law and, as a cosponsor, I look forward to voting in favor of the Equality Act when it comes before the Senate.”


Marlene Pray, director of The Rainbow Room In Doylestown, which also serves as Planned Parenthood’s Bucks County LGBTQ+ & Allies youth center, said "it's about damned time," and that in 2021, people should have the right to go about their daily lives without fear of discrimination, or worse.


Pray also said the youths she works with experienced a higher frequency of profiling for their identity or perceived identity, resulting in everything from loss of wages to outright assault.


"The message [this vote] sends is that you have value, you are loved, you can have a life, can be the one you love and can exist in public with freedom; it is incredibly meaningful," Pray said. "So many young people I have worked with over the years have lost jobs and had to keep their LGBTQ+ secret out of fears at work. And add to the number of Black LGBTQ+ youth and these problems become greatly magnified.


"This is commonsense legislation, and it only makes sense to update our Civil Rights Act to protect LBGTQ+."

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Newtown News of Interest
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