April 19, 2015 at 9:48 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
House committee drops plan to kill D.C. LGBT rights bill

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) on April 17, 2015, said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has decided not to take up a resolution that sought to kill a D.C. LGBT rights bill. (Washington Blade file photo by Blake Bergen)

A U.S. House committee that oversees D.C. government affairs has decided not to take up a resolution to kill a law passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser that would ban discrimination against LGBT students attending religious schools in the District.

According to a statement released by D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee informed her on Friday that it would not consider a resolution of disapproval aimed at killing the D.C. Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014.

The statement says Norton “was pleased to receive confirmation” that the committee would not mark up the D.C. LGBT rights measure “at any point (during) this Congress.”

Since resolutions of disapproval of D.C. bills must be approved by the House and Senate, the decision by the committee not to mark up or give its approval of the resolution prevents it from advancing to the House floor for a full vote and thus prevents it from passing.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) introduced the disapproval resolution targeting the Human Rights Amendment Act on April 14, saying her resolution was needed to block a law that she said would infringe upon the religious rights of faith-based schools.

Supporters of the law dispute claims that it would interfere with religious rights. They argue that it would not force religious schools to recognize or fund LGBT clubs or groups, saying the measure would only require such schools to provide the same meeting facilities and other logistical support provided to other groups and clubs.

An identical disapproval resolution for the Human Rights Amendment Act was introduced in the Senate last month by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The full Senate had not acted on Cruz’s resolution as of late last week.

Norton said in her statement that while the Oversight and Government Reform Committee chose not to take up Hartzler’s resolution to kill the Human Rights Amendment Act, it has decided to move ahead full steam on a separate disapproval resolution targeting the D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act.

That measure, which the City Council passed and Bowser signed, would ban employers from discriminating against employees based on the employees’ personal reproductive health decisions, including a decision to have an abortion.

Norton’s statement says the same coalition of groups that lobbied against the disapproval resolution targeting the LGBT rights measure remains committed to lobbying against the attempt to kill the reproductive rights law.

Among the groups participating in the coalition are the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, DC Vote, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Center for Reproductive Rights, Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“We have learned that the disapproval resolution against the gay-related HRAA will not be marked up,” said GLAA President Rick Rosendall. “So House Republicans are only targeting the one pertaining to reproductive health,” he said. “We have seen one group’s rights traded for another’s before. Our coalition stands against those trade-offs.”

A spokesperson for Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on why the panel chose not to take up the disapproval resolution for the LGBT rights law.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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