Democrats plan national ban on LGBTQ discrimination to force GOP to kill it
Democrats in Congress will introduce a plan to ban discrimination against LGBTQ individuals nationwide as part of an effort to highlight Republican hostility to equal rights, BuzzFeed reported Monday.
While the bill will almost certainly be dead on arrival, Democrats hope the GOP response to the legislation will paint themselves as unsympathetic to a public that has swung widely in favor of LGBTQ rights in recent years.
"It's important for Americans to know whether members of Congress support full equality for our community or whether they support continued discrimination against LGBT Americans," Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) told BuzzFeed.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who will sponsor the bill in the upper chamber, said Republicans who oppose the effort "should have to stand up and explain why."
Democrats endorsed a similar legislative effort in 2015 titled the Equality Act, though Republicans refused to allow the bill to be debated in committee. It is possible that this effort could meet the same fate.
However, LGBTQ rights are yet another issue where many Republicans find themselves out of sync with public opinion, President Donald Trump's half-hearted pivot on the issue notwithstanding.
While the public has broadly changed its tune on LGBTQ rights — Gallup polling found just 37% of adults remained opposed to legal same-sex marriage in 2016, as opposed to 59% a decade before — much of the GOP has been slower to join the bandwagon. On the state level, Republicans have introduced laws to preempt nondiscrimination ordinances, protect individuals' right to discriminate with so-called "religious freedom" laws and attack trans rights.
Recent PRRI polling found 69% of people in the U.S. support nondiscrimination laws, and 75% of people "incorrectly believe workplace nondiscrimination laws are already on the books."