ENDA now has more co-sponsors than “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal legislation had in 2010.
GOP candidate says he opposes discrimination of any kind, but marriage is a state issue
Harry Reid announced Thursday that he will cosponsor the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as activists were arrested demonstrating for ENDA outside Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s office.
More Evidence Equality Is Good For Business: Two New Reports Show Support And Need For Employment Non-Discrimination Laws
New poll shows two-thirds of small business owners support federal employment protections while second report illustrates how LGBT workers who work hard could fail to get ahead…
New study finds 50% increase in number of U.S. companies that adopt gender identity non-discrimination policies ~ LGBT News
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla signed into law an employment nondiscrimination act protecting LGBT Puerto Ricans.
Shareholders of the oil giant voted against adding nondiscrimination protections for LGBT employees by a margin of 81% to 19%.
Marriage is great, but many LGBTQ PoC need job safety
April 11, 2013
As the Supreme Court weighed arguments on same-sex marriage, Chief Justice John Roberts wondered aloud from the bench whether action on the issue by the court was necessary, because “politicians are falling all over themselves” to bring the legal rights of gay and lesbian Americans in line with those of everyone else. If only this were true. In up to 34 states it’s still legal for employers to deny jobs to citizens simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The lack of legal protections in two-thirds of the states for members of the LGBT community means that more people live in poverty and have a harder time making it simply because their rights aren’t on an equal footing with other Americans. This is even more the case for LGBT women and people of color, where employment discrimination fuels an even broader economic crisis.
But these hardships can be rolled away, and we need not wait for members of Congress to finish “falling all over themselves” to make it happen. As a report released earlier this week by a coalition of non-discrimination organizations lays out, President Obama can take unilateral action right now to help more LGBT Americans secure jobs, improve living standards and live out their dreams.
As Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, said to me recently, “Hopefully 2013 will be the year that President Obama fulfills his written 2008 campaign promise and signs an employment non-discrimination executive order.” A Freedom to Work online petition already has over a 185,000 signatures pressing the president to do just that.
The case for doing so is persuasive and the numbers are staggering. Contrary to the aspirational images wealthy white men in popular media, such as the gay-millionaire couple on NBC’s hit-comedy “The New Normal” or the upwardly mobile denizens of “Will & Grace,” LGBT Americans are more likely to be poor and less educated than their peers, and come from communities that have been historically, economically marginalized. More than half of LGBT people in the U.S. are women, and black Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos make up a greater proportion of those identifying as LGBT than do whites.
According to a Gallup Survey last year, LGBT Americans are 30 percent more likely to have low-income jobs than the general population. Correspondingly, LGBT Americans are less likely to have high paying jobs than workers as a whole, and have a greater sense of dissatisfaction with their living standards as a result.
Furthermore, lower levels of education, fed by the open hostility that many LGBT youth grapple with in school, creates yet another economic obstacle for the community. LGBT Americans have lower levels of education than the overall population.
The bottom line is that employment non discrimination measures are required. Too many people neither can get nor keep good jobs without them.
According to a report by the Center for American Progress, as many as two out of five gay and lesbian workers “have experienced some form of discrimination on the job” with up to one out of five of these having been “fired for their sexual orientation.”
For transgender workers, these astounding numbers become astronomical. Nine out of 10 transgender employees have encountered “some form of harassment or mistreatment” at work with almost half of those who encountered difficulty on the job reporting extreme hardship, such as losing employment “due to gender-identity discrimination.”
Extreme bigotry has dire economic consequences. In certain cities, as Queers for Economic Justice points out, the unemployment rate of the transgender community can be up to seven times higher than that of the muncipality as a whole.
Though the cruel truth is that all of this is perfectly legal, the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t think it should be. Public support for non-discrimination is 20 points higher than that for gay marriage, but you wouldn’t know it from the way things are moving in Washington.
A bill to end employment discrimination in all 50 states has been introduced in almost every Congress for the past two decades, but has never passed. Last year the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received a hearing in the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee but not a vote—not in the committee, the Senate itself nor the full Congress.
This week a bipartisan group of senators and representatives are introducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would finally make it illegal in all 50 states to discriminate against LGBT workers.
A familiar proposal to ban LGBT discrimination in the workplace is back.
Two state House bills that would end anti-LGBT job discrimination were left pending in committee yesterday, but Equality Texas is hopeful the measures will make it out of committee by next week.
Congress members have asked President Barack Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity. One hundred ten members of Congress signed the open letter, sent to the president Wednesday. Though Obama has been a long supporter of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, he has not indicated that he would sign an executive order.
Last year a group of 72 House members sent a similar letter to the president. However, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president did not believe an executive order would be ideal way to deal with the lack of a nondiscrimination policy. Carney said Obama was “committed to lasting and comprehensive nondiscrimination protections, and we plan to pursue a number of strategies to attain that goal.” Though President Lyndon Johnson’s executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of gender, race, religion, has been in effect since 1965, President Obama has expressed his preference for Congress, including the Republican-majority House, to pass ENDA.
On Wednesday 110 Congress members wrote, “We remain committed to passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban employment discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. However, you can take action today to help prevent these types of unfair labor practices and to lay the groundwork for passage of ENDA.” At least 16.5 million Americans would be protected under the proposed executive order, according to the Williams Institute, as federal contractors are one of the largest employer subsets in the country. But currently it is legal to fire people on the basis of their sexual orientation in 29 states and legal to fire people on the basis of their gender identity or expression in 34 states. Because of this, approximately 43% of LGB people and 90% of transgender people have experienced some sort of workplace discrimination.
“With a majority of American workers living in states that have not passed laws granting LGBT employees legal protections from workplace discrimination, an executive order will provide broad protections that will level the playing field,” the Congress members wrote.
A long-standing piece of pro-LGBT legislation is under review and may be redrafted prior to its expected introduction in the U.S. House next month. In an interview with the Washington Blade on Wednesday, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), the senior openly gay member of the U.S. House, announced that he plans to introduce in April the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a measure that would bar workplace discrimination against LGBT people.
“I’ll be the lead author of ENDA, which we are at least planning to reintroduce in April,” Polis said.
Multiple sources familiar with ENDA say the legislation is being reconsidered before its reintroduction in the 113th Congress, and maintain no final decisions on the bill have been made. It’s unclear what the nature of the changes might be, but one source familiar with ENDA told the Washington Blade the bill is being reconsidered with respect to religious exemption and disparate impact to make the legislation’s protections stronger for LGBT workers than previously written. The changes are being considered under the assumption the legislation won’t pass anyway with Republicans in control of the U.S. House.
ENDA has previously included a strong religious exemption. In the most recent version of the bill, Section 6 provided an exemption for religious organizations and businesses that were also exempt under Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964. The legislation also avoided the issue of disparate impact. Under that doctrine, which is found under Title VII, a violation of the law may be found if an employer has a practice that discriminates against workers, even though it doesn’t seem discriminatory on its face. For example, a company that says it won’t hire anyone for a job who’s shorter than 5’10″ could be found in violation of the law on the basis of gender discrimination because most women aren’t that tall. It’s unclear how disparate impact would apply to LGBT people.
Polis declined to identify any specific changes being contemplated to ENDA, but acknowledged a review process is underway.
“We’re going through ENDA now and have been working with many of the advocacy groups and my staff, and the [LGBT] Equality Caucus staff to make sure that concerns are addressed, and we’re going through that now,” Polis said.
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It looks like there will be progress toward a federal ban on anti-LGBT discrimination this year, in one way or another. At a Center for American Progress event in Washington, D.C., today, U.S. senator Tom Harkin of Iowa pledged to move the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which he chairs.
“I’ve been on ENDA for years — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — and as chairman of the HELP Committee, I intend to move it this year,” Harkin said. “We’re going to move ENDA this year, so I just want you to know that, OK?” An aide to Harkin later clarified that he meant the committee, not the full Senate, as he has no control over whether or when the full body will vote, theWashington Blade reports.
Meanwhile, if Congress does not pass ENDA, President Obama may issue an executive order prohibiting companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to The Washington Post.
“Obama decided against issuing such an order during the presidential campaign last year, disappointing many gay-rights activists,” the Post reports. But now sources say he “may reverse that decision and issue the order if Congress does not pass broader legislation offering protection for gays in the workplace,” the paper notes.
Click the header link above to watch the video.
What: GetEQUAL to Obama: “Sign the ENDA Executive Order!”
When: Sunday, February 10, 2013; 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM (EST)
Where: South side of the White House (nearest Washington Monument)
Who: GetEQUAL DC and families, friends, co-workers and supportive members of the community
On Sunday, February 10 – just two days before President Obama’s State of the Union Address – members of GetEQUAL DC will gather outside the White House to remind President Barack Obama of a first-term promise not kept. As he was running for president, then-candidate Obama pledged to extend workplace protections to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people employed by federal contractors, but has yet to deliver any policy to protect these vulnerable employees, who can be fired in over half the states in the country based simply on their sexual identity, and 39 states based on their gender identity or expression.
President Obama could offer these protections today to 16 million people with the stroke of a pen by signing an Executive Order which would protect anyone employed by a contractor who receives over $10,000/year in federal funds. As we approach the first State of the Union for the president’s second and final term, GetEQUAL is reminding the president to keep the promises he made that will not only help boost our suffering economy but protect millions of workers and families.
Heather Cronk – email@example.com – 202-491-7240
Janelle Mungo – firstname.lastname@example.org – 951-491-1581