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LGBT Resources at Brooklyn Law School Library: LGBT Legislation

Introductory guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) resources at Brooklyn Law School Library

Federal Legislation

At this time there are no federal laws that protect people from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the private sector, like there are for race, national origin, religion, sex, age, and disability.  Federal government workers, however, are protected from such discrimination.  Attempts to pass legislation banning sexual orientation discrimination in private workplaces to date have not been successful. 

Since the 103rd Congress (1993-1994) bills have been introduced in Congress to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Unfortunately, in all the years these Employment Non-Discrimination Acts (ENDA) bills have been introduced, none have made it past both Houses.

Here is the latest ENDA bill which the Senate passed in the 113th Congress (2013-2014).

In the 114th Congress (2015-1016), both the Senate and House have introduced bills entitled Equality Act  "to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity and sexual orientation and for other purposes". 

State Legislation

Almost half the states and the District of Columbia have laws that currently prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in both public and private jobs and New York State is one of them. The rest are  California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

In 2003 New York's Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA)  took effect and "prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights". However, gender identity is not protected.  The only prohibition against discrimination for gender identity is for employees of state and local governments.

Currently  37 states plus Washington D.C. allow marriages between same-sex couples.

NYS's 2011 Marriage Equality Act allows gender-neutral marriages for both same- and opposite-sex couples, while prohibiting state and local courts and governments from penalizing religious and religious-supervised institutions, their employees, or clergy for refusing to sanctify or recognize marriages in contradiction with their religious doctrines, or for refusing to provide services and accommodations for such weddings.

NYS also recognizes marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions.

In 2015 Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive action establishing the first-ever statewide regulations protecting transgender New Yorkers from discrimination.  These regulations, through the NYS Human Rights Law, unequivocally bans harassment and discrimination against transgender people. These regulations affirm that all transgender individuals are protected under the State’s Human Rights Law, and all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others should know that discrimination against transgender persons is unlawful and will not be tolerated anywhere in the State of New York.


Subject Guide

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Loreen Peritz
250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 780-7538