November 8 2007, 7:47 AM
The House of Representatives yesterday passed H.R. 3685, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), by a vote of 235 to 184.ENDA makes it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or otherwise discriminate against employees simply based on their sexual orientation.Both Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Diana DeGette were co-sponsors of the original bill, which included protections for transgender individuals. Unfortunately, the transgender protections were stripped from the bill before the vote. Via press releases I received by e-mail (no link available) here's what DeGette and Perlmutter had to say:DeGette:"I am a proud co-sponsor of the original Employment Non-Discrimination Act that included gender identity. I supported this bill since no one should be discriminated against because of who they are. I cast my vote today with deep regret the transgendered community has been denied these protections. While I am committed to extending equality in employment to gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, I will not rest until we also include transgendered Americans."Perlmutter:I was a co-sponsor of Rep. Frank's original ENDA bill, which included transgender individuals, and I still support the original form of the bill. However, I believe the bill we passed today reflects the best and most historic step we could take at this time to provide the same basic federal employment civil rights protections already provided to a person based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability. Working Americans should only be evaluated on the merits of their work, not their sexual orientation. I am proud to support ENDA, and I will continue to work toward the ideal of equality."The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force had this to say.And the Colorado Stonewall Democrats sent out this message (again, no link, received by e-mail.)While the passage in the House of Representatives today of this stripped down ENDA is deeply disappointing, we have seen a tremendous shift in the commitment of a growing number of legislators to only support an inclusive ENDA in the future when passage in the Senate and the signature of a new President make the enactment of comprehensive employment protections a possibility. We remain frustrated and disappointed that an inferior bill was brought to the floor. The stripping away of gender identity not only abandons transgender people - the most vulnerable within the LGBT community - it ignores the reality that gender identity and expression are at the root of much anti-gay discrimination.It is distressing that Representatives were put in the untenable position of either voting for a bill that is not supported by most of the community it's supposed to protect, or voting against a bill extending rights based on sexual orientation alone. We look forward to working with those members who voted yes on ENDA today, but who support a fully inclusive bill, to make sure they have an opportunity to vote on a fully-inclusive bill the next time ENDA comes up for a vote. Despite the action taken today in the House, the United ENDA coalition continues to expand, and we intend to harness the passion, grassroots activism and local, state and national organization leadership. Collectively, we are committed to working with Congress towards the ultimate goal of passing a fully-inclusive ENDA.