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