WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today applauded the Democratic leadership for introducing a gay-inclusive historic civil rights package in Congress. This is the first civil rights bill of its kind and it shows the Democrats' commitment to achieving equality for all people, including gay and lesbian Americans, says HRC.
"This is a landmark bill that will pave the way for the introduction of important bipartisan legislation that will protect lesbian and gay Americans from hate crimes and job discrimination," says HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. "The Democratic leadership, particularly Sen. Tom Daschle, deserve special thanks for sending the message that gay and lesbian equality is an important priority. We will now shift our attention to lining up support on both sides of the aisle so we can pass this legislation that is supported by the vast majority of Americans."
As part of a larger legislative package, the Democratic leadership introduced the Protecting Civil Rights for All Americans Act. This legislation includes six different provisions that show a commitment to basic human rights.
The first section is federal hate crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation. The second is a study that will explore the national problem of racial profiling. Section three would give more money to the Legal Services Corp., which provides legal representation to low income individuals and families. The fourth section is legislation to outlaw discrimination based on genetics. The fifth section is legislation that outlaws employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The final section deals with increased funding for law enforcement agencies that deal with enforcing civil rights laws.
In addition to this omnibus bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which outlaws job discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, which helps law enforcement battle hate crimes, will be introduced as free standing bills to maximize bipartisan support.
"In the last Congress we passed hate crimes legislation with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and we expect to pick up even more support when the legislation is reintroduced in the coming weeks," said Stachelberg. Based on previous Senate votes and commitments from new members, HRC has identified over 60 votes for the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act and a bipartisan majority for the Employment Non Discrimination Act in the current Senate.