In an effort to close the gap that would allow discrimination against gays, Congressman Ted Lieu joined his fellow members in the LGBT Equality Caucus backing a new bill that would provide comprehensive protection in areas such as housing, employment and public accommodations.
The Equality Act intends to expand the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and recognize the interests of lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, and transgender Americans. It was authored by Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, who - as mayor of Providence - was known for being the first openly gay mayor of a state capitol.
But after protests last weekend in California - including by one Asian American church group that claims homosexuality is a "public health hazard" - Lieu said there’s a real sense of urgency about making sure protections are installed now.
“It’s odd that you can have same sex marriage, but be fired (from your job) for being part of the LGBT community,” Lieu said in an interview with NBC News. “The discriminatory reactions to the legalization of marriage equality nationwide have demonstrated the urgent need for comprehensive legislation to prevent discrimination.”
Lieu called the demonstrations last week in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley by a group called the True Marriage Union at the Living Water Harvest Holy Ground Church, “unfortunate.”
But he said Asian Americans are no more or against same-sex marriage or LGBT rights compared to any other group. He believes the Southern California protests were more based on religion.
Lieu said the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage should help give the equality measure a real chance of passing.
The bill seeks to amend the Fair Housing Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and a number of different statutes to assure that the LGBT community get the same chance at equality every other American gets, Lieu said.
“You’re seeing movement even among Republicans, that continued discrimination of the LGBT community is both morally wrong and politically damaging,” Lieu said. “The marriage equality ruling establishes for the American public where the majority already are—which is that love is love and discriminating against a human being based on love is idiotic.”
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law put the AAPI adult gay or lesbian population in California at 66,000 adults. Nationwide, an estimated 325,000 AAPI adults identify as LGBT.