This Day in History- The Civil Rights Act of 1964

In an effort to eliminate the rampant discrimination against African Americans and other people of color, President Linden B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2nd. Hailed as a landmark piece of legislation, this act prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Its purpose was to eliminate the unequal application of voter registration requirements, as well as to eliminate segregation within schools and public facilities. The power of this act was later added to by Congress to become more effective. Over time, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has diminished the impact of discrimination against people of color, though racism is by no means eliminated.

Currently, people of color and other demographics continue to face discrimination on a daily basis. Many of these groups are protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and additional federal and state legislation. However, there are groups who face discrimination without any legal protection whatsoever.

In many areas it is still legal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As of today, 21 states have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation; only 18 of them prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the remaining 39 states, discrimination against LGBTQ community is perfectly fine (legally speaking).

The issue doesn’t stop here. There have been pushes for years to legislate the LGBTQ into second-class citizens, including the California effort with Prop 8. There have been efforts to prohibit homosexual marriage using a Constitutional amendment, and efforts to make sure that discriminating against the LGBTQ community remains legal in many states. 

It has been 51 years since the signing of the Civil Rights Act, yet we still see racism, sexism, and xenophobia across the country. How long will it take for us to pass an act to protect the LGBTQ community (numbering 9 million in the U.S.)? How long will we continue to see homophobia and transphobia? The sooner we make a legal stand against this hate, the sooner we may see results.

–       Melina, Law Library Intern


By rcll

July 02, 2015

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