Massachusetts Representative Barney
Frank reintroduced a federal gay protections bill in Congress
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act
(ENDA) would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual
orientation or gender identity.
Frank, who is openly gay, said the bill
has attracted more than 100 co-sponsors, including openly gay
Representatives Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Jared Polis of
The reworked bill adds back transgender
protections removed from last year's bill. Gay rights groups warned
Frank last year that they would not support a gay-only protections
“I am encouraged,” Frank told gay
weekly the Washington Blade about the inclusion of transgender
people in this year's bill. “I think the transgender community and
others have been doing this in a very good way. This time they have
been doing the lobbying.”
“Transgender people face tremendous
discrimination in the workplace,” said Michael Silverman, executive
director of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, a
transgender rights group, in a statement. “In these difficult
economic times, it is imperative that Congress pass the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act to ensure that transgender people, like all
Americans, have an equal opportunity to participate in the
Proponents dropped transgender
protections from last year's bill only to have the legislation fizzle
in the Senate after House approval.
A large majority of Fortune 500
companies protect gay and lesbian workers but only a third include
transgender people. It is unlawful to fire a person for being transgender in
only 12 states.
Opponents of the bill argue it impinges
on religious freedom.
“This bill will mean that employers
will be forced to make employment decisions against their religious
beliefs, and that is unacceptable in a country that was founded on
the freedom of religious expression,” Ashley Home, federal policy
analyst for Focus on the Family Action, told Citizen Link.