Thursday, September 27, 2007

ENDA hits snag over transgender inclusion

Regardless of whether or not Chimperator Bush vetoes the Matthew Shepard Act, it is absolutely critical that ENDA be passed. I get call routinely form employees who are harassed or fired due to their sexual orientation and must regretfully tell them that in Virginia (and the majority of the states) there is NO legal protection or recourse. ENDA is the best chance for a correction of this terrible reality. I have no desire to throw transgendered individuals under the bus, but passing a watered down version of ENDA is better than nothing. Also, even if transgendered are not specifically protected, the mere existence of ENDA would likely have some deterrent effect. Here are highlights from the Washington Blade (
House Democratic leaders are strongly considering dropping anti-discrimination protections for transgender persons from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, after an internal Democratic head count on Wednesday found that the bill would likely be defeated if it included the trans provision, multiple sources familiar with the bill said.

The current version of the bill calls for banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, terms that are defined in the measure to include gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons. As of late Wednesday, it appeared likely that the trans provision would be removed, setting up a potentially divisive fight within gay activist circles over whether or not to support an ENDA bill that excludes trans people.
“There has been an unraveling of the bill in the last week,” said a lobbyist familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We’re hearing that Speaker Pelosi is very worried about how the gender identity issue will play on the floor,” the lobbyist said. The lobbyist and other sources said Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), among other Democratic leaders, expressed concern that the defecting Democrats would help Republicans garner enough votes to pass a motion either deleting the transgender language from the bill or recommitting the bill to committee, which effectively would kill the entire bill.

“The speaker is committed to passing the strongest possible ENDA bill,” said Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s press secretary. A decision to drop the transgender language from the bill is likely to cause a split in the coalition of civil rights groups that have lobbied for ENDA for more than a decade.
Half a pie is better than no pie whatsoever. I hope the gay rights groups do not go at each other's throats and play into the hands of those in the GOP who want to kill ENDA in its entirety.


Anonymous said...

As always, you make a great point. The question is what can individuals do (and how do we go about it) to ensure those who get to vote understand that this is not an option, but a necessity? Keep up the blog -- great food for thought. You'd think this one would be a no brainer. I hope there will be no in-fighting. Small steps might take time, but they do put us on the right path and moving in a forward direction.

Anonymous said...

Why all these "piecemeal" laws? Why not simply amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include "sexual orientation?" Resolves all the problems, stops the farce, and ends HRC's hypocrisy.