Holder Calls for Updated Fair Housing, Lending Laws

By Melanie Arter | July 15, 2014 | 2:56 PM EDT

Attorney General Eric Holder at the annual Attorneys General Winter Meeting in Washington, Feb. 25, 2014. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a speech at Howard University Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act called on Congress to update fair housing and lending laws to address “discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status.”

“Today I’m calling on Congress to renew the spirit of the Civil Rights Act by updating fair housing and lending law to address discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status,” Holder said.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 addressed discrimination in voting rights, public housing, education, federally assisted programs, and employment. It made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The law was later expanded to include protections against discrimination on the basis of disability or age.

Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 prohibited gender discrimination in education programs, including athletic programs that received federal funds. In the 1970s, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which made it illegal for employers to exclude pregnancy and childbirth from sick leave and health benefits plans.

The attorney general called for the strengthening of workplace protections to ban pay discrimination against women as well as to end discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) citizens “by ensuring equal access to education and promoting non-discrimination learning environments.”

Holder said Congress passing “updated Voting Rights legislation” will “enable every voter in every jurisdiction” the ability “to exercise unencumbered the rights that so many have fought for and died to defend.”

Holder called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “a highly successful” attempt “to confront fundamental questions that had bedeviled this nation since its inception and that justifiably generate controversy even today.”

“This morning, we are reminded that carrying on this work, advancing the cause of justice, and ensuring the civil and human rights of every person - no matter where they come from, no matter who they are, no matter who they love – continues to constitute our most solemn obligation,” he said.