Press

Employment Non-Discrimination Act introduced in Congress

Date: 
April 25, 2013

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National Gay and Lesbian Task Force calls for vote to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers

WASHINGTON, April 25 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is urging Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The measure was introduced today in both chambers of Congress by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

The need for ENDA is clear: Right now, under state law, it is legal to fire someone in 29 states because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual; in 34 states, it is legal to fire someone solely for being transgender. Passage of ENDA will help remedy this inequity by uniformly prohibiting workplace discrimination throughout the United States.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions is expected to take up the measure, marking the first time a fully LGBT-inclusive ENDA will see a committee vote in Congress. Though ENDA is substantively the same as it has been in years past, there are a few minor changes to the language of ENDA this year, which clarify and improve the text of the legislation, such as removing a reference to the Defense of Marriage Act.

According to Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a joint study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, 26 percent of transgender people lost a job because they were transgender and 50 percent were harassed for being transgender. And, according to the 2008 General Social Survey, 42 percent of LGBT people overall have experienced at least one form of employment discrimination during their lives.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"Passage of ENDA is long overdue. It is time for Congress to join with the vast majority of Americans in supporting an end to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace. The public overwhelmingly knows that it is wrong for their LGBT friends, family and neighbors to be deprived of the ability to earn a livelihood and provide for their families simply because of who they are or who they love.

"Our entire country benefits when all people are allowed to freely contribute their skills and talents. Corporate America understands this concept well, which is why so many Fortune 500 companies have already enacted policies protecting their LGBT employees. But that isn't enough. Right now, under state law, it remains legal to fire someone in 29 states because they're lesbian, gay or bisexual. In 34 states, it is legal to fire someone solely for being transgender. ENDA will help ensure everyone is allowed to participate on a level playing field in the workplace. This is a core American value.

"Our community has provided statistics and shared personal and painful stories of employment discrimination. We've seen LGBT workers lose their foothold in a struggling economy, not because of downsizing or poor performance, but because of discrimination. Our country can and must do better. We urge Congress and the administration to secure ENDA's passage this year. The time to vote on ENDA is now. No more stalling."

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund builds the grassroots political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The Task Force Action Fund does this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation, and works to pass pro-LGBT legislation and other progressive initiatives. The Task Force Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to the Task Force Action Fund are not tax-deductible.