This One Huge Thing Could Overturn Anti-LGBT State Laws, So Not All Hope Is Lost

North Carolina, among other states, has been stirring well-deserved controversy over the past few weeks after passing  legislation enabling discrimination against the LGBT community. The most notable law passed in North Carolina restricts individuals to bathrooms corresponding with the genders they were born as. Since, politicians of both parties have wasted no time taking sides: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has made clear his low-key obsession with little girls using public bathrooms, and, meanwhile, House Democrats are pushing the Equality Act against LGBT discrimination. Democrats introduced the bill in July 2015, and are calling on House Republicans to allow it to move forward.

Something you’ve probably noticed about this most recent slew of legislative attacks on the LGBT community is that they all emerge on a state-level in predominantly Republican states. And to House Democrats, who discussed the Equality Act in a Thursday press conference, the best way to address this is with a federal law. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who is currently leading the fight to pass the Equality Act, claims federal law would “take precedence” over the state-level bigotry all of us are presently reeling at.

Essentially, the Equality Act would override state-level conflicts by amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through adding gender identity and orientation to the Civil Rights Act’s list of protected classes. This list presently includes race, gender, religion, and national origin.

“The Equality Act would provide protection at the federal level for individuals and prohibit them from being discriminated [against] based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Rep. Cicilline added on Thursday.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is also leading the way for the passage of the Equality Act, and according to the Huffington Post, has called on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to oversee a hearing for the Act.

It’s worth noting that the Senate, but not the House, passed a bill barring discrimination against the LGBT community in the workplace back in 2013.

The Equality Act presently has more than 210 co-sponsors from both the House and the Senate. These co-sponsors include two Republicans.

Nancy Pelosi Holds Weekly Press Conference At The Capitol
CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images

This may be a truth the vast majority of Republican leaders, especially those based in North Carolina are presently unwilling to accept, but sponsoring the Equality Act would be in their best interest in the long-run. In states where anti-LGBT legislation has been passed, and where more than 100 similar anti-LGBT bills are currently pending, corporations are demanding the repeal of this legislation, which could cause them to drastically lose business by offending the sizable demographics of the LGBT community and its supporters. At the beginning of this month, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver threatened to move the 2017 All-Star game, which has always been held in Charlotte, North Carolina, unless it repealed its transphobic bathroom law.

And, frankly, here’s one more truth most Republican leaders in North Carolina are still unwilling to accept: There have been zero recorded incidents of transgender individuals arrested for misconduct in public restrooms, who are far more likely to be the victims of harassment in public spaces than cisgender individuals.