Norton Says Senate Republican Attempts to Block D.C.’s Anti-Discrimination Bills Will Not Deter Her or D.C. From Insisting on Their Equal Rights as American Citizens

Mar 18, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said she was not surprised that, according to media reports, resolutions were introduced today by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator James Lankford (R-OK) to disapprove two anti-discrimination bills recently passed by the D.C. Council.  Lankford is the Chairman of the Senate’s D.C. authorizing subcommittee.  The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act prohibits D.C. employers from discriminating against employees based on their personal reproductive health decisions, and the Human Rights Amendment Act protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students from discrimination by educational institutions in the District.

“The day after House Republicans released a budget calling for greater federalism and local control over local affairs, Senate Republicans have decided to take orders directly from the Heritage Foundation and its social conservative allies by attempting to interfere with the District of Columbia’s local laws,” Norton said.  “In no other local jurisdiction in America with similar laws could such a naked violation of local self-government take place.  Our country has held together as a nation of incredibly diverse backgrounds and views because of mutual respect despite our differences and because of the priority of local control on which our nation was founded.  The anti-discrimination legislation passed by the District of Columbia, if applied correctly, will do no more than protect residents from facing discrimination by their employers because of their most personal reproductive health decisions and students from discrimination for their sexual orientation at their own schools and universities.  Fortunately, the courts have found a way to recognize constitutional rights simultaneously, such as the right to privacy, freedom from discrimination, and freedom of religion.  There is no intent to violate the rights of others, such as freedom of religion.  Georgetown University, for example, has found a way to avoid discrimination against LGBT students while adhering to the university’s strong Catholic traditions.”

Under the Home Rule Act of 1973, all D.C. legislation must be transmitted to Congress for a review period before they can take effect.  The anti-discrimination bills were transmitted for a 30-legislative day review period on March 6, 2015.  A bill takes effect at the expiration of the review period unless a resolution of disapproval is enacted into law during that period.  Norton has prevented a disapproval resolution from being enacted into law since 1991.