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posted Friday, February 12, 2021 - Volume 40 Issue 07
Anti-discrimination protections on the way under Democrats
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Anti-discrimination protections on the way under Democrats

To the Editor:

Democrats' newly achieved control of the White House and Congress renders virtually inevitable the federal anti-discrimination protection long sought by LGBTQ+ Americans.

President Biden's administration has made this a priority for his first 100 days per White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (Washington Blade, 2/5/2021). More importantly, Democrats have taken control of both houses of Congress.

Democrats last controlled the White House and both legislative houses in the 111th Congress (2009 - 2011). LGBT rights then took three leaps forward: Congress repealed statutory support for the military's anti-gay discrimination (2010) and passed an inclusive federal hate crime law (2009). The Senate also confirmed appointments to the US Supreme Court of Sonia Sotomayor (2009) and Elena Kagan (2010), who joined three other justices to declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

In 2019 every Democrat in the House of Representatives - but only eight Republicans - voted to pass the Equality Act. A companion Senate bill had sponsorship by 43 Democrats and both Independents but only one Republican; Republican control meant no floor vote.

Today Democrats control both houses in 18 states' legislatures; all 18 have pertinent anti-discrimination laws. Minnesota (1993) and Iowa (2007) enacted such laws when Democrats controlled their legislatures.

When Virginia Democrats took control of the Old Dominion's legislature in 2019, less than six months later, they made their state the first in the South to enact a pro-LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination. This will nicely supplement the US Supreme Court's June 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia ruling. The Equality Act will cover not just employment but also housing, education, and public accommodations (e.g., bakeries).

With Democrats in control, our day in the sun as LGBTQ+ Americans has become inevitable.

J. Eric Peters
Columbus, Ohio

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