With same-sex marriage sweeping the country and analysts predicting the Supreme Court will soon legalize it in all 50 states, gay rights advocates are turning their attention to new legislation: the LGBT version of 1964's Civil Rights Act. It may take a decade or more to be put into law, but advocates say a comprehensive civil rights bill to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is next on the agenda. The New York Times points out just 18 states ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and there are still 16 states where the LGBT community has essentially no legal protections. The Times highlights the case of Connecticut's Kerry Considine, who tried to add her wife to her health insurance policy, only to be denied.
A federal non-discrimination bill would be "a major step forward" for the LGBT community, which lacks "fundamental, enduring, and explicit federal legal protections in this country," says the Human Rights Campaign. Over the past six months, the HRC and American Civil Liberties Union have been working on a bill that would cover "credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service, and public accommodations." Legislation could be introduced in the spring, but it'll be a tough sell as Republicans take control of the House and the Senate. "This will not be an easy struggle," says Democratic Rep. David Cicilline. "It forces a much larger conversation about our values as a country." (Check out a mom's unusual response to her son's sex change.)