The Employment Non-Discrimination Act Is Urgently Needed and Long Overdue

(Washington, D.C., September 23, 2009) — Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) commends the House Education and Labor Committee for holding a hearing on the Employment Non- Discrimination Act of 2009 (ENDA), H.R. 3017. This vital legislation would provide clear federal protection against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, which are unrelated to job qualifications or work performance. Since 1994, ENDA has been repeatedly introduced in the House and Senate, with each Congress failing to send it to the President.

“We appreciate the House Education and Labor Committee holding this hearing and urge immediate action on ENDA, legislation which is urgently needed and long overdue,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees work just as hard and contribute just as much as other workers. They should not have to fear losing their jobs simply because of who they are.”

Along with several key witnesses testifying in favor of ENDA, Acting Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Stuart J. Ishimaru will testify on behalf of the Obama Administration. Ishimaru has advocated for reinvigorating the agency’s work on race discrimination issues. He was instrumental in the Commission’s adoption of groundbreaking guidance on gender discrimination, and he opposed the Commission’s actions to weaken age discrimination protections.

Currently, twelve states, the District of Columbia, and more than 100 localities have non-discrimination protections that protect LGBTQ workers, covering nearly 40 percent of the U.S. workforce. According to numerous surveys, 60 percent of likely voters in the United States support an inclusive federal employment non- discrimination law. President Obama has identified passing this bill, inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity, as a civil rights agenda priority.

NCLR has long supported passage of ENDA to ensure that the entire LGBTQ community is protected from workplace discrimination and has a full time field organizer working to organize local action teams in key communities to educate members of Congress and their staffs about the problem of gender identity and expression discrimination.

“We urge Congress to act swiftly to put this bill on the President’s desk,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Price Minter. “President Obama has said he stands ready to sign this bill. ENDA must become law, once and for all, to help end the scourge of workplace discrimination in this country.”

Read the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights ENDA Letter to Congress and NCLR’s written testimony on ENDA to the House Committee on Labor and Education.

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.