November 5, 2010
The 2010 mid-term elections will require a change in strategy when it comes to legislation important to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. For the next several weeks, a lame-duck Congress will determine what issues will be addressed before the House of Representatives leadership changes in January. President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have urged Congress to promote bipartisanship in order to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
Other pieces of legislations including the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), the Tax Equity for Health Beneficiaries Act, the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act, the Domestic Partners Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO), the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act appear to have little realistic chance of becoming law by year end. The likelihood of moving any of these bills in the newly reconfigured Congress is daunting.
The election results make it all the more crucial to take action however we can in the next several weeks. It is vital, for example, that constituents call their Senators now not only to reinforce the importance of repealing DADT before year end but also to ask your Senator to co-sponsor comprehensive immigration reform that includes UAFA.
The good news for moving forward
The good news is that we have never had to rely on legislation to make progress on workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and their friends and family. Corporate leadership has long provided substantial progress on issues of workplace equality for our community in the absence of federal action. Of course, federal legislation such as ENDA and DPBO would help extend progress to more workplaces faster. Other important legislation would remove obstacles imbedded in federal laws that make it difficult, costly or impossible for employers to treat all of their employees equally.
Out & Equal's constituents - employee resource groups, human resources and diversity & inclusion professionals, and executives who identify as or are allies for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender leaders at large multinational corporations - are a powerful and influential base of support. It is a base that has achieved significant gains within their own U.S. workplaces in the absence of federal legislation and has begun to look beyond the U.S. in the workplace equality movement. The leadership role for this group is to: