Oregon Sen. Leads Charge for LGBT Civil Rights

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced a bill that would expand legal protections for gays, lesbians and transgender people under the federal Civil Rights Act.
     Merkley led the charge to ban job discrimination against gays during the last Senate session.
     “Despite major advances in equality for LGBT Americans, including nationwide marriage equality, in the majority of states, an LGBT couple could be married in the morning and risk being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartment in the afternoon,” Merkley said in a statement.
     Merkley’s bill would expand the protected classes in the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
     The measure would ban discrimination based on the new protected classes nationwide in six arenas: employment, education, finance, housing, jury selection and public accommodations.
     “The time has come for us as a nation to be bolder and better in ensuring full rights for the LGBT community,” Merkley said. “Every person deserves to live free from fear of discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love.”
     At a press conference on Capitol Hill, Merkley said the bill would likely not get much traction, but that the goal was to create momentum and support around the push to end discrimination in all forms.
     The bill has the backing of 40 senators and 158 house members, but few if any Republicans are on board.
     Eventually, the bill will have its moment, Merkley said.
     Merkley was not available for comment.

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