WASHINGTON The American Civil Liberties Union, in partnership with Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center, issued a statement today regarding the bipartisan introduction of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act in Congress. ENDA would prohibit workplace discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, with certain exemptions for employers with religious affiliations.
Employment Non-Discrimination Act Statement
The bipartisan introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) today reflects the strong national consensus that workers should be evaluated on their merits, not sexual orientation or gender identity. As organizations that have, for decades, challenged LGBT workplace discrimination in the courts and worked for passage of inclusive non-discrimination laws at the local, state, and federal level, our commitment to the passage of a robust ENDA remains absolute and resolute. The continued need for this legislation is clear and it is of vital importance to LGBT people across the country.
Despite the remarkable progress cultural, political, and legal that LGBT people have made in recent years, there are currently 34 states that lack workplace non-discrimination laws that are fully inclusive of LGBT people. This patchwork of protection continues to leave LGBT people vulnerable to workplace discrimination. We hear the stories every day from our clients and the tens of thousands of LGBT people who contact LGBT legal organizations like ours every year. In a country that values fairness and equal treatment under the law, we believe the current situation is unacceptable.
We greatly appreciate the efforts of Sens. Merkley (D-Ore.) and Kirk (R-Ill.) and Reps. Polis (D-Colo.) and Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) in making a number of significant improvements to ENDA. These include removing language that would have reaffirmed the discriminatory and unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act.
While we applaud the progress that has been made, we stand united in expressing very grave concerns with the religious exemption in ENDA. It could provide religiously affiliated organizations far beyond houses of worship with a blank check to engage in employment discrimination against LGBT people. Some courts have said that even hospitals and universities may be able to claim the exemption; thus, it is possible that a religiously affiliated hospital could fire a transgender doctor or a religiously affiliated university could terminate a gay groundskeeper. It gives a stamp of legitimacy to LGBT discrimination that our civil rights laws have never given to discrimination based on an individual's race, sex, national origin, age, or disability. This sweeping, unprecedented exemption undermines the core goal of ENDA by leaving too many jobs, and LGBT workers, outside the scope of its protections.
We are fully committed to continuing to work for the passage of ENDA and an appropriate exemption for religious organizations. We remain hopeful that our allies in Congress will agree that singling out LGBT people alone for this kind of unequal and unfair exemption to otherwise applicable non-discrimination laws has no place in this historic legislation.
American Civil Liberties Union
National Center for Lesbian Rights
Transgender Law Center
Equality Illinois Statement on introduction of Employment Non-Discrimination Act
CHICAGO — Equality Illinois applauds today's introduction of ENDA—the Employment Non-Discrimination Act—into the U.S. Senate and House and thanks Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) for being one of the bill's sponsors.
Under state law, Illinois already enjoys the workplace protections proposed by ENDA. Because we already live in a state with such a statute on the books, Equality Illinois, the state's oldest and largest advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans, calls on Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and every member of the U.S. House delegation from the state to support the measure.
"People can't be fired in this country for being straight, but in many states across the country, hard-working men and women can lose their jobs simply because of who they are and whom they love, and that just isn't right," said Randy Hannig, Director of Public Policy for Equality Illinois.
"While we are lucky to have employment non-discrimination protections here in Illinois, some states will never enjoy similar provisions unless the federal government acts to make ENDA a reality," Hannig said. "We urge each and every member of Illinois' Congressional delegation to sign on as co-sponsors of this thoughtful piece of legislation to ensure that people across the country, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are free to make a living without fear of losing their jobs due to blatant discrimination."
Illinois Congressman Rep. Schneider helps introduce Employment Non-Discrimination Act
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) helped introduce the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would extend the current workplace protections based on gender, race and religion to sexual orientation and identity. The bill would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire or discriminating against an employee or job applicant based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
"These are difficult economic times, and no one should have to fear losing their job or being denied a promotion simply because of who they are," Schneider said. "I have been a strong advocate for marriage equality, but we must understand that equality does not stop at the altar, and I am proud to join my colleagues in support of these fundamental rights."
A vocal and active supporter of LGBT equality, Schneider has cosponsored the Safe Schools Improvement Act, the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Respect for Marriage Actall of which aim to include LGBT Americans under the umbrella of protections enjoyed by the vast majority of the public. He also joined his colleagues in sending an amicus brief to the Supreme Court urging it to overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and to the Illinois General Assembly in support of the state's marriage equality bill.