Wednesday, September 25th 2019 Senate Democrats agree to amendment removing "gender identity" from civil rights bill Washington, D.C. — Senate Democrats have agreed to an amendment offered by Randall Thomas (R-MI) that would remove the "gender identity" provisions of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 2019 bill, focusing the bill on expanding federal civil rights protections to include sexual orientation. Senate Minority Leader Jimmy Fitzsimmons (D-MA) announced the agreement after meetings with several moderate Republican senators and a Senate Democratic caucus meeting to discuss the proposal. "I know that this news is disappointing to the transgender community, and it is something many in our caucus deeply regret," Fitzsimmons said, promising transgender Americans that "we have not forgotten about you," and said that the Senate Democrats remain focused on issues effecting the transgender community. The amendment comes after Senate Republicans spent the August recess whipping their caucus and applying pressure to red-state Democrats who face tough reelection races next fall. With the legislation's sexual orientation provisions polling with majority support across the country (including in most states that do not perform same-sex marriages), Republican attacks have been focused on the "gender identity" portion, with Kentucky Governor Ed Barrie (R) promising to "fight tooth and nail in the courts" to prevent what he characterized as "an attempt to let a man who dresses up as a woman from preying on little girls in the women's locker room" at a campaign rally in Bowling Green. Senator Michael Rojas (R-NM), one of the three Republicans who voted for the bill in the Judiciary Committee, said that the CRA will find a "much more friendly" reception from Republicans now that the gender identity provision has been removed. "While I personally would be fine with the bill being passed with [the gender identity provision], I know that I'm ahead of my party on this issue." Rojas commented. White House Director of Legislative Affairs Connie Tate said that the White House signed off on the change to ensure the bill's passage. "If we had retained the gender identity provision, all of our whip counts indicated that the bill would fail," Tate said. "Our counts on a "no-gender identity" CRA indicated that the bill would likely pass, so the President agreed after a long discussion." Tate said that the administration "remains an ally of every part of the LGBT community", and would work with an eye to eventually adding such protections with a Democratic majority in the Senate. On the Democratic Party's left, the reaction has been negative. "This is moral cowardice on the part of the Republican Party to leave one of the most vulnerable communities in our country without federal civil rights protections because of the bigotry of part of their base," Senator Alex Crossley (D-NJ) said, while Senator Andrew Howard (D-WA) tweeted it was "shameful...that a majority of Senators [sic] seem to believe that trans people do not deserve legal protections against the bigotry they face". It remains legal in 30 states to deny transgender people housing on the basis of sexual orientation, and refuse to hire a transgender person based on their gender identity in 21 states. In those states, the exceptions are public housing and civilian federal employment and agencies with contracts for the federal government. As separate circuit courts have come to different conclusions on whether existing federal employment statues forbidding discrimination "on the basis of sex" apply to transgender people, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case (Toledano Grocery v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) to rule on the issue.