Equality Act: The Equality Act (H.R. 5) advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee on May 1st. Thank you to the many LGBTQ community centers and CAN members who worked on lobbying, letter writing, and advocacy campaigns. Over 150 LGBTQ community centers from 40 states have signed on to CAN's letter urging Congress to pass the Equality Act.
The legislation would bring comprehensive federal protections to the LGBTQ community, and strengthen non-discrimination protections for women and other minorities.
Now that it has secured committee approval, it will be brought to the house floor for a vote later this month. Contact your representatives using our pre-written letter and tell them to vote in favor of this bill.
HHS Announces Final Conscience Rule: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) finalized the issuance of a new religious conscience rule on May 2nd. Despite receiving over 200,000 comments opposing changes to the original rule, the administration has officially given health care providers the green light to deny critical services because of their own personal beliefs. A patient's health should ALWAYS come first. Millions of Americans, including women and the LGBTQ population, are now at risk of being denied access to basic health services.
Freedom of religion is important, which is why it is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. However, religious freedom should not give anyone the right to hurt others. Use the hashtag #PutPatientsFirst on social media to show your support for unbiased health care.
LGBT People in Rural America: Popular culture images of LGBT people suggest that most LGBT people live in cities or on the coasts. Yet an estimated three million or more LGBT people call rural America home.
The Movement Advancement Project released a new report, Where We Call Home: LGBT People in Rural America, which examines the structural differences in rural life and their unique impact on LGBT people in rural areas, who are both more vulnerable to discrimination and less able to respond to its harmful effects.
Among other challenges, rural LGBT people are less likely to have explicit nondiscrimination protections, are more likely to live in areas with religious exemption laws that may allow service providers to discriminate, and have fewer alternatives when facing discrimination.
Supreme Court and Title VII: The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether employment discrimination laws apply to the LGBTQ community. The Court has accepted three cases including that of Aimee Stephens, who was fired from a Michigan funeral home after revealing she identified as a transgender person.
The issue is whether Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, protects LGBTQ people from job discrimination. Title VII does not specifically mention sexual orientation or transgender status, but federal appeals courts in several states have ruled recently that LGBTQ employees are entitled to protection from discrimination. The Court will hear the cases in October of this year, with a decision likely to be announced by June 2020.