Matt Foreman

A non-transgender-inclusive ENDA? No way!

Filed By Matt Foreman | September 27, 2007 1:25 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ENDA, LGBT civil rights, NGLTF, transgender, transgender inclusion

IIf media reports from the last 24 hours are accurate, it is unconscionable that congressional leaders would rush to a decision to strip protections for transgender people at the same time as states across the nation are adding these protections at an unprecedented pace.

Over the last few days, we have heard rumors swirling around Capitol Hill about last-minute jitters some Democrats are having about the gender identity language in ENDA. These were expected, as the language was new to the bill this year. Rather than immediately abandoning gender identity at the first sign of nervousness among a few members, House leadership should have worked with the community to shore up the needed support, just as they did when they voted to pass transgender-inclusive hate crimes legislation in the spring.

Gender identity language has twice passed through the House in the hate crimes bill, and earlier this year there were similar last-minute concerns among new members. We were able to overcome them then, and should be given the chance to do so now. It is incredibly ironic that today, the same day news is breaking about the House removing gender identity protections from ENDA, the Senate just voted 60–39 to allow a voice vote on a transgender-inclusive hate crimes bill. The bill then immediately passed.

States as diverse as Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Iowa have all made discriminating against transgender people in the workplace against the law. Thirty-seven percent of Americans now live in jurisdictions that have workplace protections based on gender identity — just 14 percent fewer than the overall number (51 percent) who are protected on the basis of sexual orientation. These victories are a direct result of statewide LGBT rights organizations and state legislative leaders holding firm against last-minute concerns and not giving up at the first sign of trouble.

The Task Force is very proud of our history in being the first national organization to oppose a non-transgender-inclusive ENDA. We have worked very hard to add transgender protections to this bill and now it is time for the final push, not to give up before a fight. We implore Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Miller and Representative Frank to abandon pursuit of a sexual orientation-only bill and return instead to the real work needed to pass a fully-inclusive ENDA that will protect all members of our community.”

Earlier today, the executive directors of nine national LGBT organizations sent a statement opposing the removal of protections for transgender people from ENDA. The statement is below.

LGBT community refuses to abandon transgender inclusion in ENDA

Nine national LGBT advocacy organizations issue collective call for gender identity to remain in Employment Non-Discrimination Act WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — The following statement was released by the executive directors of nine national LGBT organizations Thursday morning in response to the article in the Washington Blade posted Wednesday evening: Our collective position remains clear and consistent regarding the status of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Our organizations oppose the removal of protections for transgender people from ENDA. We would also oppose any employment nondiscrimination bill that did not protect transgender people. We are shocked and upset that, according to the Washington Blade, influential members of the House of Representatives have apparently made a decision to remove protections for transgender people from the bill. If true, this decision was made without consultation with leaders of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. While we don’t doubt the sincerity of congressional leadership’s intent to take action and be helpful to the LGBT community, we cannot disagree more with this strategy. We will continue to work with LGBT-supportive members of Congress to urge their colleagues to immediately drop this strategy. Jody Huckaby, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights Jon Hoadley, National Stonewall Democrats Rebecca Fox, National Coalition for LGBT Health Jeremy Bishop, Pride At Work, AFL-CIO Clarence Patton, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects Andrea Densham, Mautner Project

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A couple of days? I reported on that in May. NTAC's lobbyists spoke to more than one Senatorial office that said transgender inclusion was iffy and that there was a good chance it would be stripped. NTAC's lobbyists were castigated by Mara Keisling.

Thank you for putting out this press release. It is very reassuring that you and the eight other organizations are standing in solidarity with us. It's unfortunate that the LCCR and HRC aren't on the list as well.

Thank you so much.

A huge thank you to NGLTF for standing by their promise to demand a trans-inclusive ENDA. We can't start stripping off various parts of our community now to benefit others. It's the typical divide and conquer strategy. By doing so, we'd set ourselves back instead of forward.

Once again, we in the transgender community have the opportunity to see who our friends really are, and once again, we see HRC, Barney Frank, and their political allies cutting and running when called upon to put rhetoric into action and stand up for the rights of all Americans, even when the going gets rough.

As far as HRC goes, their lack of any kind of statement on the issue, even simply adding their name to a letter supporting a trans-inclusive ENDA, should come as no surprise to anyone. It's hardly the first time they've done this kind of thing and I very much doubt it will be the last.

Barney, I have to admit, disappoints me. I really thought he'd finally come around but clearly he was just waiting for the chance to say "I told you so.", and move forward the "rights for the rich" version of ENDA.

Y'know what, gang? I'm feeling like it's 2004 all over again...how about you? Maybe it's time we started acting like it...seems to be the only way we're going to make any real progress here.

I don't thank our allies nearly as often as I should for standing by us. Thanks to Matt and all the folks at NGLTF for your unwavering stance.