Obama wants LGBTQ rights put into civil rights act but act needs fixing
President Obama announced that he’s in favor of altering the Civil Rights Act of 1965 (CRA) to include LGBTQ rights and I don’t think many are surprised. He’s the first president to discuss issues that affect the LGBTQ community in his speeches and the first to appear on the cover of a major LGBTQ publication as ‘Ally of the Year.’ This is great news for a group that has, in the last few years, witnessed policy changes that they fought long and hard for. For many, it means that we’re moving toward a country that further protects diverse groups from discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity in the military, educational institutions and in the workplace.
But there is something missing from his statement of support. Before anything is added to the CRA, the Supreme Court needs to take a closer look at the section they gutted from the historic act in the summer of 2013. Section 5 of the CRA was arguably its most vital part since it called for the Supreme Court to oversee and approve legislation introduced by states with a bad track record of racial injustice. Civil rights activists and social justice advocates are already up in arms about the court’s decision, which came on the cusp of several police killings and other incidents that disproved the court’s majority, whom had argued that the country is much different than it was when the CRA was passed and is obsolete in the current racial climate. If the events that have transpired in this country since Section 5 was invalidated by the court are not taken into consideration when and if the changes Obama proposed are implemented, it would be a slap in the face for those who endured hoses, hounds, jailing, and death in their struggle to see the act passed. It would also dismiss its intended purpose, which was to provide protections for black Americans at the polls and in other areas of life amidst a hostile racial environment.
Since the Senate and House are both ruled by conservatives right now, changes are not likely to take place in the near future. If they do, I hope those protections will be added to a fully restored CRA.