Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are promoting a new Civil Rights Act during their bus tour leading up to the January 5 Senate runoff election. The proposed expansions on the current Civil Rights Act would include sexual orientation and gender identity. The act’s reach would also expand to impact policing, prisons, and even private businesses.
Both Warnock and Ossoff support the Equality Act, which would prohibit business owners from not employing or denying their services to LGBTQ+ individuals. There are no provisions within the bill excluding religious beliefs.
According to Warnock, an expanded Civil Rights Act would prohibit all business discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and government practices preventing transgender individuals from serving in the military.
Warnock has also mentioned that his efforts would tackle employment, housing, voting, and service discrimination against ex-convicts.
“People get the stigma of being convicted, and in some cases they’re not even convicted – just arrested. And housing discrimination is legal, job discrimination is legal,” stated Warnock. “None of us wants to be judged by our worst moment.”
Ossoff has stated that the act would restrict the use of deadly force by police officers. The candidate tweeted that the federal government should impose national standards for use of force.
“We need to bring real accountability against individual officers, against police departments, against prosecutors, against judges, against jails and prisons where there is race and class bias in our criminal justice system,” stated Ossoff. “[W]hen Ahmaud Arbery is shot to death in broad daylight in the street on camera, and the local police and prosecutors look the other way, look the other way, it makes a mockery of equal protection and it’s the job of Congress to pass legislation that will hold those local authorities accountable for that kind of misconduct.”
Despite Ossoff’s statement concerning the Ahmaud Arbery case, Georgia authorities investigated immediately and two prosecutors recused themselves of the case due to professional connections with one of the perpetrators. Three men are facing charges currently for Arbery’s death.
Additionally, Ossoff’s platform recognized that the act would impose sweeping changes to the criminal justice system. He proposed demilitarization of local police forces, banning private prisons, ending cash bail, abolishing the death penalty, legalizing cannabis, and ending prison or jail time for nonviolent drug offenses.
Abolition of the death penalty resurfaced as a key issue this past week as the death penalty was exacted against two men convicted of murder. Ossoff advocated for this portion of his platform in response to petitions for both men to be reprieved of their death sentence.
Early voting for the runoff election began Monday, and will end on January 1.
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