Drum roll, please. Drop the balloons. Throw the confetti. Remove the embargo from the press releases. ENDA has been re-introduced. Let the 'Grateful Fools Showering HRC with Credit Card Moolah' season begin!
Because, boys & grrls, that's about all the good this will do anyone.
Oh, I hear you saying, "I know you think it's worse than crap but at least it's a step forward."
Does your workplace have enough employees to qualify under ENDA? Most don't. Way most.
Is it completely devoid of church involvement? -- and I'm not talking the narrow carve-out for sacred employment that conforms the law to the requirements of the First Amendment that is the standard for the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I mean completely devoid. Churches own substantial business and property in Indiana -- including those largest of employers in Indianapolis, Methodist and St. Vincent's hospitals. (Gay people have reported allied health as our highest per capita employment for decades. The transgendered report allied health in their top five.) They own rental properties, social service agencies, schools, restaurants -- and other employers service them as a substantial part of their businesses. Good luck not getting stuck in that loophole.
Think you're safe because it's federal employment you're after? Think again. You are not protected from the discrimination in civil service applications that you face as a gay or transgendered person who has been denied equal opportunity to earn extra points for military service (and certain other forms of federal service we've been historically discriminated against in) because there's a provision in ENDA forbidding consideration of disparate impact. Those covered by the 1964 Civil Rights Act get to use disparate impact, however. Yes, you will finally be statutorily guaranteed the right to get in line -- behind just about everyone else who scored as well on the tests and resume ratings as you did.
And that's not the biggest effect of not having access to disparate impact consideration. Even if you manage to jump through all the many hoops you have to jump through to qualify to even begin to claim discrimination under ENDA that people covered under the 1964 Civil Rights Act don't have to jump through, you still have to win your case.
What that means in practical terms is that you have to work for someone really, really stupid -- so stupid as to declare openly in writing or in front of credible witnesses who will testify for you that you were otherwise the one and only best qualified person for that work but that you were denied employment or advancement or other employment-related opportunity because of your sexual orientation and/or gender identity -- sexual orientation and/or gender identity that also fit the unnecessarily very narrow definition of sexual orientation and gender identity that ENDA covers, by the way. (And don't even get me started on the issue of perception.)
Most cases brought under the 1964 Civil Rights Act are won not just on their individual evidence but are accomplished at least in part due to disparate impact in no small part because these cases -- even the ones with good evidence -- are insanely difficult to prove otherwise.
In other words, with these and the other restrictions built into ENDA, it will be the relatively rare person who has been discriminated against because of sexual orientation and/or gender identity who will win their case. Chances are, given that antigay oppression is institutionalized and rarely recognized by even the oppressors as something they do, more of those wins will be by hets claiming discrimination by gays -- particularly in the early years of the law.
Most won't know any of this, so the momentum toward a real civil rights act that will cover us as well as the 1964 Civil Rights Act does those it includes in employment, not to mention one that will cover the whole of the needed scope of employment, housing, public accommodation, and credit, will be lost.
Is that a step forward or just another bump in the road?