On October 18th 2007, the House Committee on Education and Labor, by a vote of 27-21 passed the Employment Non Discrimination Act (H.R.3685). This historic legislation providing workplace protections on the basis of sexual orientation has left committee and will likely face a floor vote this week. HR.3685 is identical to the long supported H.R.2015, with the notable exception of protections based on gender identity. Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has proposed an Amendment, with the full support of the House Democratic leadership that would restore ENDA to its original language and intent. Without this Amendment, H.R.3685 would deny protections to transgender people, as well as fail to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual people who do not conform to society’s gender expectations. Baldwin’s effort would be our best opportunity to override the prior bias and ensure that these protections are a critical element within the comprehensive ENDA legislation. Unlike the Senate, where any Senator can offer an amendment at almost any time to any bill, the House is tightly controlled. Leadership has to approve what amendments will be offered-and they have to be cleared by the House Rules Committee. In particular, including language which protects victims of discrimination based on gender identity is arduous and for some Members of Congress, politically divisive. Language of this magnitude will affirm the relevance of abating employment discrimination for all. Therefore, the reinstatement of gender identity protections back into ENDA will insulate a vulnerable population from further discriminatory practices, in addition to entrenched inequities.
The Baldwin Amendment would ensure that ENDA is wholly inclusive of the entire LGBT community. Further, it would help to erode discrimination against LGBT citizens and promote a national identity that is dedicated to fundamental fairness and equity for all. For years, social workers, activists and advocates for civil rights and gay equality have fought to eradicate discrimination on behalf of marginalized communities. NASW will not waver from its conviction that intolerance and personal prejudice predicated upon one’s sexual orientation is unconscionable. We will steadfastly proceed with our efforts to protect the rights of all Americans and seek passage of an ENDA bill that is inclusive and reflective of America’s diversity. The Association believes that this represents Democracy at its best-advocating for full equality and nondiscriminatory practices.
Representative Baldwin’s Amendment will likely be considered on the House floor the week of October 22, 2007. Please call your Representatives at 202-224-3121 and urge them to support the BaldwinAmendment, and vote yes on gender identity protections in ENDA. Let your Representatives know that you are a constituent and a social worker requesting their support for the alleviation of intolerance and the protection of civil liberties.
Contact: Lawrence Moore, III at (202) 336-8289