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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 29, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 13
NAACP backs Equality Act
Section One
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NAACP backs Equality Act

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The NAACP supports the Equality Act, its DC bureau director announced on March 22.

'We support what it does, and we support it now. It's important that it gets through,' NAACP Bureau Director Hilary Shelton told NBC News.

'We believe the same protections that we have worked for so hard over the 110 years of the NAACP should be extended to all Americans, particularly members of the LGBTQ community.'

The organization previously supported the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a law signed by Barack Obama that expanded federal hate crime laws to include LGBT+ people.

The NAACP also backed marriage equality and anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community in the Affordable Care Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Currently 30 US states have no laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Equality Act was reintroduced by Democrats in the House of Representatives earlier this month. The bill will certainly pass the House, where Democrats hold a majority, but it faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that 'While the president betrays our values with his [transgender military] ban, Congress is bringing our nation closer to equal liberty and justice for all with the Equality Act.

'Sexual orientation and gender identity deserve full civil rights protections - in the workplace and in every place, education, housing, credit, jury service, [and] public accommodations.'

In the Senate, however, Democrats have only 45 seats, meaning the bill must unite all Democrats and win over several Republicans to stand any prospect of becoming law.

Forty-four Democratic senators have backed the bill, but West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin has said he will not do so. Manchin has also opposed previous LGBT rights legislation.

'I strongly support equality for all people and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind,' Manchin said in a statement.

'No one should be afraid of losing their job or losing their housing because of their sexual orientation.

'After speaking with local education officials in West Virginia, I am not convinced that the Equality Act as written provides sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to students transitioning between genders in public schools.'

Manchin said he would 'continue working with the sponsors of the bill to build broad bipartisan support and find a viable path forward for these critical protections so that I can vote in support of this bill.'

On the Republican side, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is considered the most likely to vote for the Equality Act.

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