Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank had some good news last week regarding the status of ENDA, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. Rep. Frank, the lead sponsor of the bill, is optimistic about passing the bill and expects a vote by year’s end.
As reported by Advocate.com:
The House Education and Labor Committee Wednesday convened a hearing on the transgender-inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act [H.R. 3017], which would expand federal employment protections to workers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“H.R. 3017, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, will ensure that employment decisions are based on merit and performance and not prejudice,” said Representative George Miller of California, who chairs the committee. “For more than three decades, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans have waged a courageous campaign for their workplace rights. I regret that they had to wait so long for us to respond.”
The Women’s Law Project submitted a letter of support for ENDA along with ten other organizations focused on women’s employment, which you can read here (PDF).
Fortunately, things are finally looking better than ever for the bill’s advocates. Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and pro-LGBT witness at the hearing, noted that the arguments against the bill “were not the arguments that we have heard over the past 20 years that have been degrading, insulting and inhumane,” a turn of events which Carey suggests bodes well for the bill’s passing.
However, the bill is not without significant opposition. Rep. John Kline of Minnesota and Craig Parshall of the National Religious Broadcasters each expressed strong reservations about the bill. Kline presented the same argument that greets most civil rights legislation: that the bill’s “vague” language would cause an “explosion of litigation.” Parshall, on the other hand argued that ENDA had insufficient religious protections, despite the fact that the bill’s language guarantees even stronger religious protections than those that are enumerated in Title VII—the employment discrimination portion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
There was one moment in particular during the hearing which illustrated precisely why ENDA is so important—the testimony of Vandy Beth Glenn. Glenn is a former Georgia legislative aide who had been fired due to her gender identity. When Glenn expressed her intention to come to work as a woman to her boss, he told her that people would think he was “immoral,” that her transition was “unacceptable” and “inappropriate,” and then he fired her.
In the words of Barney Frank, “an American who would like to work and support himself or herself ought to be allowed to do that judged solely on his or her work ethic and talents.” The passing of ENDA is a step in making this possible. Contact your senator or congressperson today to express your support for ENDA!