October 2, 2007, Update: Late Monday night, Speaker Pelosi’s office confirmed that there will be a delay in the process of marking up the watered-down version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) legislation. This delay is in response to an immediate and compelling series of actions by LGBT, civil, and women’s rights organizations. Leaders and members of many groups sent emails, made calls, and met with legislative staff during the past several days expressing disappointment and frustration with the ENDA legislation under consideration. The revised version, the target of the calls from the community, leaves out protections for transgender people and provides blanket exceptions for hospitals or universities run by faith-based groups to fire or refuse to hire people they “think” are gay or lesbian. The protections of the initial legislation have essentially been lost. NOW and other organizations will be working with leaders in Congress to put the initial inclusive bill to a vote and see which of those who represent us support workplace fairness for all.
Last week, just before it was slated to go to the House floor for a vote, the civil rights bill known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was stripped of protections for the transgender community.
“NOW opposes this weakened version and encourages sponsors of the original ENDA to ask House leaders to withdraw the weaker bill and support the more inclusive bill, H.R. 2015,” said Kim Gandy, President of NOW.
“Our members, through resolutions at our national conferences, have determined that any civil rights bill must include protections against discrimination based on gender identity. We cannot support a bill that does not include a group of people who need the protection addressed by the more inclusive bill,” added Olga Vives, NOW’s Executive Vice President.
On Tuesday, October 2, the House Education and Labor committee will be discussing ENDA, which was originally introduced to prohibit employers from using a person’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity as a factor in employment decisions, such as hiring, firing or promotion.
Due to an unfortunate turn of events, the committee will be discussing a version of the bill that limits its protections solely to discrimination based on sexual orientation. Democratic leaders have decided that the original (transgender-inclusive) version, H.R. 2015, is unlikely to pass, so they have proposed a watered down version, H.R. 3685, which removes the language about gender identity.
“NOW joins with hundreds of civil, women’s, and human rights organizations in calling on Speaker Pelosi to bring the original ENDA, H.R. 2015, to the House floor for a vote, and present a bill that recognizes all the various forms of potential workplace discrimination. The recently passed hate crimes bill supported by a bipartisan group of House and Senate members — includes gender identity, and ENDA should too,” stated Vives as she summed up NOW’s opposition to the gutted bill.