Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank reintroduced a federal gay protections bill in Congress Wednesday.

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 Colorado.

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 bill.

“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 workplace.”

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.