Senator Ted Cruz seeks to overturn two D.C. laws

Senator Ted Cruz is seeking to overturn two DC acts, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act and Human Rights Amendment Act, on the basis that they violate religious freedom.

The Non-Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against those who have abortions or use birth control, and the Human Rights Act prevents religious educational institutions from denying funding to gay and lesbian student groups.

Cruz has not been the only one involved with this issue. As dcist reported, Heritage Action for America, an advocacy group, as well as other conservative organizations have encouraged Congress to oppose these acts. On the other side of the debate, more than 50 women’s rights and gay rights groups have pushed to maintain these laws so that “those who work and study in the District are treated fairly”.

According to the Post, Senator James Lankford, who worked with Cruz to introduce these potential changes, said on Wednesday, “What the DC council has done is a major threat to the fundamental right to religious freedom for DC residents and organizations, and a brazen display of intolerance.”

The two laws are currently under a mandatory 30-day review period. If Congress does not take any action, changes in the laws could become effective beginning next month.

Many in DC have taken issues with Cruz’s attempt to overturn the two laws, considering he has previously been a staunch supporter of states’ rights. Through this move, Cruz appears to be taking away DC’s rights as a state to determine and enact its own laws.

Kimberly Perry, Head of DC Vote, an organization that advocates for voting representation in the district stated, “Senators Cruz and Lankford’s move to disapprove a local District law is absurd and hypocritical. They are no guilty of the same federal overreach they often criticize in others,” the Post reported.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is also taking a stand against Cruz, especially since district residents do not have a say in Congress. She plans to work with friends and allies in Congress to make sure they oppose Cruz’s changes in the laws.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton echoed Perry’s sentiments in a statement: “In no other local jurisdiction in America with similar laws could such a naked violation of local self-government take place.”

Photo: Jamelle Bouie via flickr

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