For Immediate Release
House Hears Testimony on Landmark Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Congress Should Pass ENDA as Soon as Possible, Says ACLU
WASHINGTON - The House Education and Labor Committee heard testimony today on H.R. 3017, a bill that would finally end workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. There is also a version of that bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), pending in the Senate. Currently, it remains legal to fire or refuse to hire someone for being lesbian, gay or bisexual in 29 states, while transgender workers can be denied or refused jobs in 38 states. If passed, ENDA would become the first-ever federal ban on employment discrimination of LBGT people in most workplaces.
"In America in 2009, it is unacceptable that there is a group of people who, when they go to work, are forced to deny the existence of their families and loved ones and hide who they are for fear of losing their livelihood," said Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. "Given our country's current economic condition and unemployment rates, it is even more absurd than ever to marginalize an entire group of workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. We simply can't afford for Congress not to pass this bill."
Current gaps in our state civil rights laws leave many LGBT people and their families vulnerable to employment discrimination based purely on who they are. Employment discrimination can have a devastating effect on LGBT Americans and the families they support. ENDA would create a federal guideline that would make certain that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Americans can exercise their right to make a living free from discrimination.
"With ENDA now pending in both the House and Senate, and with a pro-LGBT majority in Congress and a pro-ENDA president in the White House, we are standing at the edge of a historical moment that must be embraced," said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. "The right to work shouldn't be denied to any American and it certainly should not hinge upon his or her gender identity or sexual orientation. Passing ENDA will ensure that everyone can enter and succeed in the workplace without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. Congress needs to pass ENDA as soon as possible to protect the rights of all Americans to live and work out in the open."
A copy of an ACLU report, Working in the Shadows: Ending Employment Discrimination for LGBT Americans," documenting widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers is available at www.aclu.org/lgbt/discrim/31836pub20070917.html
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights coalition letter is here: www.aclu.org/lgbt/gen/41104leg20090922.html
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.