Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton wants to amend the federal Civil Rights Act so that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, gender and national origin. That means that there is no federal law that prevents companies from refusing to hire or serve a person for being gay or transgender.
“It is unacceptable that LGBT kids continue to be discriminated against and bullied at school, a restaurant can refuse to serve a transgender person, and a same-sex couple is at risk of being evicted from their home,” Clinton said in a statement. “We have to do better. And it’s why I will continue to fight so every person and every family is treated with respect and dignity no matter who they are or who they love.”
Sixteen states, including Colorado and Iowa, have adopted laws that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Another three protect sexual orientation, but not gender identity.
Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, introduced a bill last session that would have added Kansas to that list – barring discrimination for either sexual orientation or gender identity – but it did not get a hearing during the 114-day session. Gay-rights activists plan to press the issue again in the next session, which starts the second week of January.