FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 15, 2007
ACTION ALERT: Urge Your Congress Members to Listen to the LGBT Community and Our Allies!
We Oppose HR 3685, A Non-Inclusive Employment Bill!
In an unprecedented act, Congressional leadership is moving forward to pass civil rights legislation that is not supported by a single organization within the LGBT community that the bill is intended to protect.
House leaders have scheduled HR 3685 for mark-up in the House Education and Labor Committee on Thursday, October 18, with a floor vote as soon as October 23. The Committee is holding a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss this strategy. HR 3685 is an employment non-discrimination bill that does NOT ban discrimination based on gender identity; it also includes a far more sweeping religious exemption than we have seen in any other civil rights legislation of this kind. This bill is opposed by over 300 LGBT organizations. Tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and our allies have contacted our members of Congress to express our dismay and to urge Congress to only consider HR 2015, the inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that will best protect ALL members of our community.
This issue is especially important for the lesbian community. Many lesbians—especially those who are masculine or butch—are targeted for discrimination because of their gender expression. For a first person account of why passing a unified ENDA is so important to lesbians, read this guest entry on Kate's Blog. HR 3685 is a bad bill for all of us because:
- It is unprecedented for Congress to pass civil rights legislation that is not supported by a single organization in the community the law is supposed to protect. Over 300 LGBT organizations representing over 2 million Americans actively oppose any employment non-discrimination legislation that does not include gender identity.
- HR 3685 does NOT provide sufficient protection against discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Not only does this bill completely fail to protect transgender people, but it also fails to protect lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and straight people who do not conform to gender stereotypes.
- HR 3685 includes a sweeping religious exemption. Under this version of ENDA, tens of thousands of hospital and university employees would NOT be protected.
- HR 3685 allows discrimination in the provision of employee benefits. Under this bill, employers could provide benefits to families of straight employees and not to families of LGBT employees.
- HR 3685 will undermine state efforts to pass inclusive legislation. The trend in state legislatures over the past five years has been to keep gender identity in civil rights legislation—the last seven states to pass these laws were successful at banning discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. We have been able to do this because we refused to back down on the need for inclusion—but if Congress passes HR 3685, it will send a powerful and negative signal to state legislatures. We do not want to turn back the clock on equality!
- HR 3685 is morally and strategically wrong. Not only is it morally wrong to leave part of the LGBT community out of this bill, but it is also strategically wrong. We have learned from our work in the states that it is far easier to include gender identity in civil rights legislation the first time it is passed than it is to try to go back and add it in later.
What will it take to get Congress to listen to the American people? Your voice is urgently needed! Please call, fax, and email your representative in the House TODAY—even if you have already done so. We must continue to stand together to make our voices heard . Never before has your voice been so important to our future and our community. When we fight, we win! Please join us in fighting for a bill that truly protects all of us.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.