Tuesday, October 02, 2007

HRC Breaks Its Silence; ENDA Vote Delayed

Human Rights Campaign has co-signed a letter demanding that transgender workers be protected from discrimination. Joining with a number of other prominant civil rights groups, including the ACLU and People for the American Way, HRC denounced changing the proposed ENDA bill to exclude transgender workers in a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congress members Barney Frank and Tammi Baldwin. Since 1994, HRC has included transgender workers in their demands for equal employment rights, but they have been slower than other prominent LGBT advocates in denouncing a new version of ENDA that leaves transgender protection out.

HRC has posted the letter on their blog:


Thank you Human Rights Campaign!

The mounting pressure from LGBT groups appears to be having a positive affect. Late Monday Nancy Pelosi's office confirmed that the vote on ENDA, originally scheduled for today, will be postponed to later in the month.

LGBT groups have come out strongly against excluding transgender workers from protection.

From 365 gay:

"In this defining and morally transformative moment, our community has come together in an unprecedented way and said once and for all that we will leave no part of our community behind," said Matt Foreman the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

"We appreciate that a decision has been made to slow down this process, and we look forward to working with Congress over the upcoming weeks to educate them as to why this substitute bill strategy is seriously flawed, convince them to abandon this strategy, and instead advance a fully inclusive ENDA later this month."


Lambda Legal has analyzed the new bill, and they fear that several provisions, beyond the absence of transgender protection, make the revised ENDA language unacceptable.

"Leaving out protections for transgender people is unacceptable, and passing a bill riddled with loopholes will make it harder to achieve equality on the job," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director at Lambda Legal.

"You can't be fired for being a lesbian or a gay man, but you can be fired if your boss thinks you fit their stereotype of one."

This is a huge loophole through which employers sued for sexual orientation discrimination can claim that their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill does not prohibit, said Lambda.

Here's a summary of Lambda Legal's complaints about the new bill:

  • As a point of clarity for the community: The recent version is not simply the old version with the transgender protections stripped out — but rather has modified the old version in several additional and troubling ways.

  • In addition to the missing vital protections for transgender people on the job, this new bill also leaves out a key element to protect any employee, including lesbians and gay men who may not conform to their employer's idea of how a man or woman should look and act. This is a huge loophole through which employers sued for sexual orientation discrimination can claim that their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill does not prohibit.

  • This version of ENDA states without qualification that refusal by employers to extend health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of their employees that are provided only to married couples cannot be considered sexual orientation discrimination. The old version at least provided that states and local governments could require that employees be provided domestic partner health insurance when such benefits are provided to spouses.

  • In the previous version of ENDA the religious exemptions had some limitations. The new version has a blanket exemption under which, for example, hospitals or universities run by faith-based groups can fire or refuse to hire people they think might be gay or lesbian.


Read their complete press release here.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since 1994, HRC has included transgender workers in their demands for equal employment rights

yeah. Right. That's why they have pushed for EXCLUDING trannspeople every year, including this one. Check your facts, K?

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