Bonnie Watson Coleman

From the office of:

Bonnie Watson Coleman

Sending Office: Honorable Bonnie Watson Coleman
Sent By:



Supporting Organizations: Human Rights Campaign

Cosponsors: Reps.: Grijalva, Levin, Norton, Pallone, Scott Peters, Takano

Dear Colleague:

Please join me as a cosponsor of the Customer Non-Discrimination Act. This bill expands the definition of a place of public accommodation under existing law and provides new federal protections prohibiting businesses from discriminating
based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Currently, Title II of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. Unfortunately, these commonsense federal protections do not extend to sex, sexual orientation,
or gender identity.  Without federal protections, LGBT people experience discrimination every day, often with little recourse.  A patchwork of inconsistent state and local laws means that many LGBT people can be turned away from restaurants, grocery stores,
or taxi cab lines simply because of who they are.   

The Human Rights Campaign has identified approximately 200 anti-LGBT bills across 34 states in 2016 alone—double the amount from the same time last year. Two notable examples that have been enacted include North Carolina’s
HB 2, which writes anti-transgender discrimination into law, and Mississippi HB 1523 which allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT patrons.

  • In 2015, 17 states considered legislation that could allow businesses to discriminate against patrons due to sexual orientation or gender identity. States including Indiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas passed different versions
    of this type of legislation.
  • Although some states and local jurisdictions prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,
    32 states do not ban such discrimination against customers, and an additional three states outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity.


To remedy the lack of these basic civil protections for LGBT individuals, the
Customer Non-Discrimination Act would do the following:

  • Add sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the list of categories where discrimination is prohibited under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure nationwide protection.
  • Expand Title II protections to more types businesses covered. Currently, only hotels, businesses serving food, and places of exhibition or entertainment are covered. The
    Customer Non-Discrimination Act would expand these protections to retail businesses, professional service providers, and transportation providers. These protections would also apply to discrimination based on race, color, religion, or
    national origin.
  • Clarify that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act or a mistaken belief that an individual is a member of a protected class are not loopholes to allow discrimination. The bill also clarifies that Title II protections apply to individuals who
    are discriminated against because of their association with a protected class, regardless of whether the individual is a member of a protected class.


The Customer Non-Discrimination Act, would allow individuals to use gender-based facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms, or dressing rooms based on their gender identity rather than the sex assigned to them at birth. The
bill does not change the current religious exemption in Title II that permits religious organizations to limit the offering of certain services connected to religious activity to members of their religious group.

I ask you to please join me as a cosponsor of the Customer Non-Discrimination Act so we can ensure that all Americans are able to enjoy their favorite restaurant, stores, or vendors without fear of discrimination due to their
gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

For more information, or to sign on to the bill, please contact Dorcas Adekunle ( or call 202-225-5801.




Member of Congress


Related Legislative Issues
Selected legislative information: Civil Rights, Judiciary
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