American Equality Bill

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The American Equality Bill (AEB) seeks to insert sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes alongside race, color, sex, national origin and religion into all of the civil rights laws of the United States, including:[1]

  • Equal employment opportunity
    • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
    • Civil Service Reform Act of 1978
    • Government Employee Rights Act of 1991
    • Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
  • Housing
    • Fair Housing Act
  • Public accommodation and facilities
    • Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
    • 42 U.S.C. §2000b
  • Equal credit opportunity
    • Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974
  • Federally funded programs (excluding religious organizations)
    • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Education
    • Elementary and Secondary Education Act
  • Disability
    • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Originally drafted by LGBT attorney Karen Doering in 2010, the AEB purposefully does not address marriage equality, as it was believed that same-sex marriage can only be legalized by Supreme Court action (as in Perry v. Brown) or on a state-by-state basis. The draft defines "sexual orientation" as "homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality," and defines "gender identity" as "the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth."[1]

It has been seen as a needed "repackaging" of federal LGBT equality strategy, which has historically been a "command and control," top-down beast coordinated by organizations like the Human Rights Campaign. The AEB has attempted to employ a more grassroots strategy, unifying all LGBT people for a common goal, though it does not see much possible progress in Congress for several years hence.[2] No national organization is pushing for full federal equality; most are focused on an incremental, piecemeal approach.[3] The problem with incrementalism is simply that it rarely works. For example, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has been languishing in Congress for nearly 20 years, and has never made it past a hearing.[4]

In 2020, SCOTUS held in Bostock v. Clayton County that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already protects workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as a result of its protections on the basis of sex. The proposed Equality ActWikipedia is a more recent bill.