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“H.R. 166 in the House of Representatives” A Bill, Washington D.C., Jan. 14, 1975.

House Resolution 166 (known as “HR 166” for short) was an effort to pass a law in 1975 that would protect gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals from several different forms of discrimination. The law, for example, would have prevented employers from firing workers solely because they are gay or lesbian.

94th Congress, Bella Abzug (main author)
1975 January 14
Legislation
ONE Archives

“H.R. 166 in the House of Representatives” 94th Congress, 1st Session. Washington D.C., Jan. 14, 1975. ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries.

House Resolution 166 (known as “HR 166” for short) was an effort to pass a law in 1975 that would protect gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals from several different forms of discrimination. The law, for example, would have prevented employers from firing workers solely because they are gay or lesbian. This was a common problem for gay men and lesbians in the 1950s and 1960s. The law was written by a congresswoman from New York named Bella Abzug. Abzug was an advocate for both women’s rights and LGBTQ rights. It was common during the 1970s for gay activists and feminists to work together to fight against discrimination. Even though the bill did not pass into law, it was important because it was the first time lawmakers in Washington, DC, showed any interest in protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination.

The document reflects how gay activism entered into mainstream politics during the 1970s. It shows how the gay movement was gaining more visibility and attracting more sympathy from heterosexuals, such as the bill’s author, Bella Abzug. It is notable that the basic idea of the bill is to extend to LGBTQ people rights that had already been extended to other minority groups, such as racial and religious minorities. This demonstrates how the gay movement built upon earlier movements for social justice and adopted many of their same frameworks and strategies. Although the law is written in a typically arcane legalistic style, the category titles alone demonstrate an interesting range of issues facing LGBTQ people in these years. It is not surprising that this proposed legislation was introduced by a woman who was a self-identified feminist, Bella Abzug. This provides an opportunity to discuss ways that LGBTQ people and women experience discrimination similarly, and how each group has been subject to gender stereotyping in comparable ways. Feminism and gay rights shared a certain kinship in the 1970s, although tension existed between the groups as well. Many heterosexual feminists in the 1970s, for example, were uncomfortable with the presence of lesbians in mainstream feminist organizations.

94th Congress, 1st Session

H.R. 166 in the House of Representatives [stamp on text reads: National Gay Task Force]
Ms. Abzug (for herself, Mr. John L. Burton, Mr. Koch, Mr. McCloskty, and Nix) introduced the following bill: which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

A BILL
To prohibit discrimination on the basis of affectional or sexual preference, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That this Act may be cited as the “Civil Rights Amendments of 1975.”

PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS
SEC.2 (a) Section 201 (a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000a (a) is amended by inserting after “religion,” the words “affectional or sexual preference,”. (b) Section 202 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000a (a) is amended by inserting after “religion,” the words “affectional or sexual preference,”.

2
PUBLIC FACILITIES
SEC. 3. Section 3 (a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000b (a) is amended by inserting after “religion,” the words “affectional or sexual preference,”.
PUBLIC EDUCATION
SEC 4. Sections 401 (b), 407 (a) (2), and 410 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000c-6 (a) (2), 2000c-9) is amended by inserting after “sex,” the words “affectional or sexual preference,”.

FEDERALLY ASSISTED OPPORTUNITIES
SEC. 5. Section 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d is amended by inserting after “color,” the words “affectional or sexual preference,”.
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT
SEC.6 (a) Sections703 (a), 703 (b), 703 (c), 703 (d), 703 (e), 703 (j), 704 (b), 706 (g), 717 (a),and 717 (c) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e-2, -3, -5, -16) are amended by adding after the word “sex,”