Let’s get people back to work!

President Obama tonight called for Congress to pass an aggressive initiative to help put America back to work. He spoke to the need to put more money in the pockets of working people. We welcome this call to bring more opportunities to those who suffer in the current economy. However, we know that even in better economic times, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are likely to be more economically vulnerable.

Research shows that LGB people are at a disadvantage when it comes to income parity.  According to the Williams Institute, we know that gay men earn 10% to 23% less, on average, than heterosexual men. Lesbian couples and their families are more likely to be poor than their heterosexual counterparts, while children from homes headed by same-sex couples are twice as likely to be in poverty compared to children from homes headed by opposite-sex couples.

The recent survey of transgender people released by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality found that respondents lived in extreme poverty, and were nearly four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000 per year compared to the general population.

Survey respondents experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the general population at the time of the survey, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate.

The new policies called for by President Obama will provide for help for the long-term unemployed, by helping them support their families while they look for work and reforming the system to better connect them to real jobs. However there continues to be a lack of uniform employment discrimination protections at the federal level for LGBT people, so while we are heartened by the speech tonight from the president, the Task Force continues to strongly urge Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

People — including LGBT people and our families — are hurting in this economy. Congress and the president must do all they can to get people back to work, including passing legislation to end job discrimination against LGBT people.