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Alabama Kills LGBT-Inclusive Antidiscrimination Bill

Alabama Kills LGBT-Inclusive Antidiscrimination Bill

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One of Alabama's most famous gay natives, Apple CEO Tim Cook, had urged the state to adopt such protections, but the bill is moved to the trash for now.

Passing an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination bill would have made famous Alabama native Tim Cook proud, but the Alabama House of Representatives just shot down any hopes of such legislation passing this session.

The House Judiciary Committee canceled a vote on the bill Wednesday afternoon, essentially assuring it will have no chance of passage before the legislative session ends, the Associated Press reports. It would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, voting, and financial transactions.

Republican Rep. David Faulkner urged the committee to cancel the vote, saying the bill raised constitutional questions. "This is a big issue, and it deals with some big issues that raise a lot of constitutional issues that we need to look at, I believe, further," Faulkner said, according to the AP.

Faulkner also claimed the bill was "creating a new protected class that our nation does not recognize, much less Alabama," the Montgomery Advertiser reports. "When you are talking about those types of issues, this is much larger than marriage. This is far broader than that."

Democratic Rep. Christopher England, who introduced the bill, said he is optimistic that similar legislation will pass eventually. "I think there's inevitability behind this particular piece of legislation," he told the Advertiser. "As days go by, months go by, the Supreme Court decision this summer, I think you'll see a wide perspective change in Alabama."

"This is a process," Rep. Patricia Todd, also a Democrat and the legislature's only gay member, told the Montgomery paper. "I guess I've been here nine years now. We haven't passed any bad legislation, and that's great. Alabama is further ahead than Arkansas, Texas, and other states. But now it's time to move forward with some positive legislation that protects people in the workplace, and that's what this bill would do."

Republicans in the House and Senate have recently introduced bills they say would ban discrimination against LGBT state employees, but neither mentions sexual orientation or gender identity, saying only that the state must not discriminate based on a "trait or characteristic, immutable or otherwise" unrelated to job performance. Todd, however, said those bills are overly broad.

"It is so broad I can imagine courts having no way to rule whether anything was discrimination or not," she said, according to the AP. "What if you don't shower often and you come to work? You can't be fired for that? That's why we have enumerated classes."

Also, those bills, unlike England's, would cover only state employees, not those in the private sector. Introduced late in the session, they have little chance of passage either.

Shortly before Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as gay last fall, he was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor and used his acceptance speech to urge the state to protect LGBT residents from discrimination. The state is "too slow on equality for the LGBT community," he said. "Under the law, citizens of Alabama can still be fired based on their sexual orientation. We can't change the past, but we can learn from it. And we can create a different future."

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