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For Immediate Release

Contact

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

Press Release

Administration Will Testify Before Senate on Landmark Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Congress Should Pass ENDA During This Session, Says ACLU
WASHINGTON -

The
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will hear
testimony today from an Obama administration official on S. 1584, a
bill that would finally end workplace discrimination based on gender
identity and sexual orientation. There is similar legislation pending
in the House, which held a hearing in September. This will be the first
hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the Senate
in 2009 and the first Senate hearing on legislation of its kind since
2002.
 

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 LGBT people in
most workplaces.

 
"There
is a group of Americans 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. That is simply unacceptable," said
Michael Macleod-Ball, Acting Director of the American Civil Liberties
Union Washington Legislative Office. "America cannot continue to
marginalize an entire group of workers based on their sexual
orientation or gender identity. Given our country's current economic
condition, we can't afford for Congress not to pass this bill."

 
Assistant
Attorney General Thomas Perez, the newly confirmed head of the Civil
Rights Division of the Department of Justice, will testify today for
the Obama administration in favor of ENDA. It will be the first time
any official of any administration has testified in the Senate on ENDA,
and will also be the first congressional testimony of Perez in his
current position as the nation's top civil rights law enforcement
official.
 

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
hearings on ENDA in both the House and Senate and a demonstrated
commitment to protecting our country's workforce, Congress has shown a
commitment to passing this groundbreaking legislation and getting it to
the president's desk," said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative
Counsel. "The testimony of the Obama administration's top civil rights
law enforcement official adds to the momentum that is building behind
this bill, and there's no reason ENDA can't be on the president's desk
for signature during this Congress. The right to work is fundamental
and shouldn't be denied to any American based on his or her gender
identity or sexual orientation. Ensuring that ENDA passes and becomes
law will guarantee that everyone can participate and succeed in the
workplace without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity."

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
 

To read the ACLU's letter to the Senate HELP Committee on ENDA and Sovereign Immunity, go to: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/aclu-letter-senate-help-committee-enda-and-sovereign-immunity
 

###

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The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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