San Francisco, CA – November 7, 2007 – Today, the United States House of Representatives took a historic step forward in equal rights for LGBT people by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by a vote of 235-184. Thirty-five Republicans joined 200 Democrats to pass the bill. The legislation, if also passed by the Senate and signed by President Bush, would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, ENDA does not include protections based on gender identity—language that was originally included in the legislation but was removed by the Democratic leadership in an attempt to ensure more support for the bill.
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates—a nonprofit group dedicated to working with employers to eliminate barriers to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the workplace—joined with a coalition of nearly 350 other organizations known as United ENDA, and fought for several weeks to reinstate transgender protections for the bill. Out & Equal continues to call for a more complete and inclusive version of ENDA.
"We have looked forward to this historic vote for so long and today acknowledge that the victory is bittersweet," said Selisse Berry, executive director of Out & Equal.
Political analysts predict that the Senate will not take up the bill, essentially ending the debate for this legislative session. Even if the Senate does take up the bill, President Bush has indicated that he will likely veto the legislation.
"We genuinely hope that the Senate will address this legislation, but we call on them to take the right course of action by passing a bill which includes gender identity," said Berry. "We know that the chances of ENDA becoming law are low, and we will work with our constituents and our allies to educate more people about the need for transgender inclusion."
While Out & Equal is proud of the advances in LGBT equality taking place in Congress, the organization also urges its supporters and all fair-minded people to push for a fully inclusive version of the bill, which will protect all members of our community.
Out & Equal™ Workplace Advocates is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. Out & Equal champions safe and equitable workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The organization advocates building and strengthening successful organizations that value all employees, customers and communities. For more information, visit www.outandequal.org .
Jere Keys, Communications Manager
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates