On the issues: Rep. Ken Calvert and Will Rollins on Jan. 6, LGBTQ rights and polarization
WASHINGTON – Congressional representatives will take a hard look at the role of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender Americans in the debate over transgender rights as the U.S. House of Representatives begins debate on the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Act this week.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Glen Arden), who will host a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday, said the purpose of the hearing is to “take a look at what the human rights laws are for the LGBT community. Where are they needed? What’s the role of the LGBT community?”
Calvert first met with House leaders on Wednesday and said that the hearing will address human rights needs and provide opportunities for him to bring legislation to the House floor.
The bill, which would extend federal protections for the LGBT community, has been sponsored by Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah). He said the bill “is intended to be strong for the LGBT community” and that it has “been crafted to provide real protections that are not just words in statute books.” Matheson said that the Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Act would “create meaningful protections for the LGBT community” and give “guarantees of equality and liberty that are not just theoretical.”
If the committee approves Calvert’s resolution, Matheson could bring his legislation to the floor to “speak for the members of the LGBT community” in the House.
Calvert said he was hopeful that the hearings would “provide a forum for people to come to a conference table and talk about what the bill is supposed to do.” After all, he said, he believes the Equality Act is about “ensuring full citizenship rights and protections, which should be extended based on civil rights laws.”
“I believe this bill is necessary to ensure that the freedom and dignity of the LGBT community will not be jeopardized by a federal right to discriminate in employment, housing and credit,” Calvert said. “We certainly live in a society where discrimination exists, and we must not let that go unchallenged. However, we must also recognize that our differences in values – our diversity – does not make discrimination okay.”
Calvert’s committee hearing will be held on