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Democratic Ranking Members Oppose GOP Attempts To Undermine D.C. Residents’ Civil Rights

Apr 15, 2015
Press Release

Democratic Ranking Members Oppose GOP Attempts To Undermine D.C. Residents’ Civil Rights

 

Washington, D.C.—Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD)  issued statements strongly opposing efforts by Republicans to overturn anti-discrimination bills that protect workplace equality, reproductive choice, and educational equality in the District of Columbia.

Ranking Member Conyers stated:

“Today marks the 100th day of the Republican-led Congress, a period of time that has been filled with dysfunction, obfuscation, and partisan games.  Instead of focusing on national issues, Republicans are using religion as a reason to sanction discrimination against women and LGBT students, or otherwise undermining the will of D.C. residents.”

Ranking Member Cummings stated:

“Under this legislation, congressional Republicans would permit District employers to fire a woman because she had an abortion after being raped, demote a man because his wife chooses to use a birth control pill, pay an employee less because his or her teenage daughter became pregnant out of wedlock, and impose a host of other penalties based on ideologies that discriminate against certain reproductive health decisions.  Far be it from me to give Republicans political advice, but this is a new low for the party that cruelly disparaged Sandra Fluke for wanting to testify about contraceptives—and suffered a massive backlash as a result.”

Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced disapproval resolutions to block two anti-discrimination bills passed by D.C.’s duly elected local officials, and also have threatened to use appropriations riders to block them. 

The D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees, as well as their spouses and dependents, based on their reproductive health decisions.  The D.C. Human Rights Amendment Act would repeal a congressionally-imposed exemption in D.C.’s Human Rights Act that permits schools to deny LGBT students equal access to services and facilities.

Both District measures are consistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution because they are neutral laws of general applicability.  They are also consistent with the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which applies to D.C., because (1) they further the compelling government interest of equal workplace and educational opportunities, and (2) these non-discrimination measures are the least restrictive means to further those interests.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform plans to hold a mark-up on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Issues: 
114th Congress