Two days before the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, the bipartisan committee reintroduced an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would create federal protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The lead sponsors of the measure introduced June 24 are Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), IIeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Michael Castle (R-DE), George Miller (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Conyers (D-MI), Todd Platts (R-PA), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee based on the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill would reflect the values, shared by the vast majority of Americans, that employment decisions should be based on a person’s qualifications and work ethic.
“Just like our friends, neighbors, and coworkers, LGBT Americans work hard, provide for our families, and contribute to our nation’s economy,” said Human Rights Campaign president, Joe Solmonese. “We all share the challenges of today’s economic downturn, but our community also faces arbitrary discrimination in the workplace, simply because of who we are and who we love. Congress must pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and ensure that all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, get a fair chance to succeed at work.”
ENDA is supported by a broad range of civil rights, religious, civic, and professional organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, NAACP, AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, AFSCME, National Education Association, National Employment Lawyers Association, Anti-Defamation League, Religious Action Center, Unitiarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, American Civil Liberties Union, and many others.
Currently, federal law provides legal protection against employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age, and disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. In 30 states across America, it is still legal to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation, and in 38 states, it is still legal to fire someone for being transgender.
In 2007, the House passed a version of ENDA that protected on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity, on a vote of 235 to 184. – by Nancy Ford