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Politics Democratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights

04:05  01 july  2020
04:05  01 july  2020 Source:   thehill.com

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Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday called for expanding and enshrining LGBTQ rights, steps they said won't happen unless former Vice President Joe Biden is elected in November.

Sharice Davids wearing a suit and tie: Democratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights © Bonnie Cash Democratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights

Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) were among the speakers at The Hill's virtual Pride summit, and both highlighted the need for action in Washington.

Davids told The Hill's Steve Clemons that a Biden administration would advance LGBTQ issues and embrace legislation like the Equality Act, a measure passed by the House last year that has languished in the Senate.

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Democrats stand with the LGBTQ community’s fight for equality. We are committed to ending anti- LGBTQ violence, bullying, and discrimination, and to ensuring that LGBTQ Americans are treated with dignity and respect in their communities, their workplaces, and their schools.

"One of the things that we should definitely do is make sure that we have a president that will sign the Equality Act, and I think a Biden presidency would lead to just that," Davids said before taking a swipe at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

'It is unfortunate that one person has the ability to slow down so much good legislation," said Davids, one of several LGBTQ lawmakers elected during the 2018 midterms. "I think that nationally people are supportive of equality, people are supportive of making sure that everyone is treated equally and not being discriminated against, and I think it would have a good shot at passing through the Senate were it to be brought up for a vote."

A Gallup poll released last June found that a slim majority of Americans favor the types of provisions in the Equality Act. About 53 percent of respondents said they believe new civil rights laws are needed to reduce discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Davids's remarks come the same month the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ people are protected from employment discrimination under federal law.

Biden praised the ruling, calling it "a momentous step forward for our country."

President Trump, whose administration argued against the protections, said the White House will "live" with the court's decision.

Gillibrand, a former 2020 presidential candidate, said Tuesday she hopes the recent Supreme Court decision can lead to similar protections in the military.

"I am hopeful that my colleagues in the Senate understand that [those protections] should also apply to the U.S. military because we're about to start our debate on the National Defense Authorization Bill," she said at the event sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and Philip Morris International.

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Many rank-and-file House Democrats are growing restless with their leadership, hoping that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will soon embrace a decision to allow remote voting in the chamber as lawmakers clamor to legislate amid the coronavirus pandemic.

LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections provide an important mechanism to expand and enhance protections for other communities and identities. In most instances, nondiscrimination laws already exist, while some localities will require the construction of new nondiscrimination frameworks.

Another speaker at the event, Chasten Buttigieg, who is married to former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, said Biden should be commended for his support of the LGBTQ community when he was vice president and endorsed legalizing gay marriage.

"I'm grateful that the vice president was so vocal about his opinion then and I am grateful for all the growth that has happened since then."

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