Launching of The American Equality Bill – Amending the Civil Rights Act by: Melanie Nathan on July 8, 2010. Melanie Nathan- “Finally a Benchmark”

Finally we have the possibility of a BENCHMARK… A Civil Rights Goal.

Soon into my advocacy,  I realized that we were going nowhere. That we had no Gay movement. That although we had marginalized our de facto (factual) existence, the latter a victory, by failing horribly in our de jure (Legal) quest, through the ridiculous notion that piecemeal legislation still served our LGBT Legal  interests.

Earlier last year I wrote a Pink Print and published it this year here on another blog. It got some attention.

So here a few activists worked together and we have a first blast attempt with thanks to “The American Equality Bill”, a proposed federal law that will amend all existing federal civil rights laws to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. These words were printed here on Lez Get Real almost a year ago and now we have a launch!

Take the The Gay Civil Rights Pledge of 2010,

Today I pledge to support expanding America’s Civil Rights laws to include “sexual orientation and gender identity.” By equally including LGBT people along side people of different colors, of different sexes, and of different nations and faiths, we will respect their fundamental true nature as people of different sexual orientation and gender identity. By ending legal discrimination against LGBT people everywhere in employment, housing, access to credit, public places, governmental facilities and federally funded programs, we will affirm their innate human dignity and our shared duty to protect it. Today is for heroes and those are you everyone of you who support what is RIGHT and JUST   – So Please support  new yet to be introduced – The American Equality Bill.

Drafted by Karen Doering, an attorney who has been involved in some of the most important legal LGBT victories and controversies, the bill takes the approach that piecemeal bills for various areas of discrimination be supported through recognition of our civil rights, first and foremost and may serve to yield an omnibus bill that will in essence get rid of all discriminatory legislation.  The Publication of the Draft is forthcoming.

It also recognizes that creating separate bills in separate areas breaks the interests of those against discrimination into small, separate pieces that dilutes the strong force of the coalition necessary to pass any bill on the federal level.

This is a critical approach to win Equality. Equality cannot come to fruition without the Benchmark – something specific that carries forth a universal message.  Now that we have the wording and the Goal- we need the BILL.

Who ever says this is “Pie in the Sky or Bold” (Bilerco) – is marginalizing our entitlement and our rights.  To my way of thinking anyone who suggest we keep the backdoor approach as our only approach does not have our absolute interests at heart.  Selfless advocacy means going for the only benchmark that will bring full equality, and if we are going to have a movement then we need to have the movement regardless of how many votes we may or may not get in Congress.  They need to know that we are not fighting for legislation; we are fighting for our lives and to live our lives, happily,  like other Americans, and that means equally.    I for one, have a right to enter through the front door –  and that is why I have touted this plan for all this time.

Bold? No way – that is an insult! Its what our factual existence demands!

“At the same time, the piecemeal approach seems to have been a disaster. For example, ENDA was first proposed in 1996, and it is still languishing fourteen years later. Representative Jackie Speier last week said it would take another five years.” (Bilerco)  But that was the back door now we want the front door!

When I spoke to the Congresswoman back in 2009 about the Civil Rights Amendment approach, she agreed that would be the best approach to our Federal rights.

I spoke up in many an articles, speeches, meetings, phone conferences – but everyone seemed to have their head in the next fundraiser or the next “call to action.”  I have to say you are all still doing the same thing until you subscribe to this benchmark legislative amendment.

Thank goodness people are frustrated and angry enough to realize that this is an imperative stance that may turn out to be our only chance. Whether it becomes law or opens our eyes to what ought to become law – we have to do this.

Some may suggest that the African American Community may be concerned about ownership of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and such amendment may be offensive to the struggle – but this is a completely unfounded concern given the NAACP leadership and testimony provided by Julian Bond in the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 03, 2009, at the UAFA hearing where he specifically stated that Gay(LGBT) rights is a civil rights issue.

Quite simply, the AEB amends ALL Existing Civil Rights Laws, starting with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”.

This ends discrimination in vast areas of life: employment, housing, credit, public places and facilities, and all programs operating with federal funding. It covers school discrimination and bullying, adoption, and all federal health programs.

The AEB would INCLUDE US EQUALLY in the Federal Non-Discrimination “GROUP POLICY” that now covers “race, color, sex, religion, and national origin”.

In whole, the passage of the AEB will make Non-Discrimination against us The OFFICIAL US Governmental Policy.

Working to file and pass the AEB will stimulate real conversation about our suffering under discrimination. This process will prepare us all for the Prop. 8 and DOMA cases already on their way to the Supreme Court.


Of course, Sexual Orientation – should have been included in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act first passed.

A gay black hero, Bayard Rustin ( was the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington at which MLK gave his Dream Speech, which helped secure the ’64 Act.

Then, we were shoved aside because of societal homophobia.

Now OUR TIME HAS COME. We have already won the de FACTO fight – the factual existence – we have won visibility – the fact that we are out and open, the fact that we have created controversy, the fact that we have children – the fact that we are shaking up DADT, the fact that Annette Benning is playing a lesbian – and many more such victories – now it has come time for De Jure – The Legal Victory!  It can Only be be done one WAY  and that is  this  CIVIL RIGHTS AMENDMENT

Now we need your support Grassroots Join us. More to come…

Civil Rights Act LBJ

FIVE Action Steps needed:

1. Sign Petition

2.  Join Face Book Page

3. Take Pledge  –

4. Write your representatives in House and Senate – via hand written  faxed letters, as well as the usual e-mails.

5. GO VIRAL anyway you know how!!!


by Melanie Nathan
[email protected]

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