Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank
on Wednesday reintroduced his Employment Non-Discrimination Act
(ENDA) in the House.
ENDA would ban workplace discrimination
on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human
Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights advocate, said the
bill would help America's economic recovery.
“All Americans worry about their
economic future, but LGBT Americans' anxieties are exacerbated when
they can be fired for no other reason than their sexual orientation
or gender identity,” Solomonese said in a statement. “Passing
ENDA is a key element of making sure all Americans can get back to
work and get our country moving again.”
Michael Silverman, executive director
of the transgender rights group Transgender Legal Defense and
Education Fund (TLDEF), said the bill's protections for transgender
people couldn't be overstated.
“We urgently need ENDA in these
difficult economic times to make sure that qualified, hardworking
transgender Americans can get jobs to support themselves and their
families,” he said. “Transgender people deserve the same
protections from employment discrimination that everyone else
receives. What matters is not who you are, but how well you do your
According to figures released by TLDEF,
47% of transgender people report they have faced discrimination in
While 21 states and the District of
Columbia have banned workplace discrimination based on sexual
orientation, only 12 states and the District of Columbia include
gender identity in their laws.
a candid interview with gay weekly Metro Weekly, the
70-year-old openly gay Frank conceded ENDA isn't likely to gain much
traction so long as there is a Republican majority in the House.
“Obviously, with the Republicans in
power, you're not going to get the bill even considered,” Frank
“This is an organizing effort. I'm
going to be urging people to spend their time talking to those who
have voted in the past for ENDA and are supportive of ENDA but where
we're not certain they're still with us on the transgender issue.
So, that's what – having a bill before you makes it easier to
organize people to do that.”