This EEOC ruling is *not* binding in courts, but the EEOC investigates a lot of workplace cases and the courts, in turn, often defer to EEOC rulings precisely because the EEOC has more experience and expertise as their mission is to uphold the Civil Rights Act of 1064.
The argument that gender identity, but not sexual orientation, is already covered by Title VII and other sex discrimination laws has sometimes been asserted as a reason to cut gender identity out of LGBT nondiscrimination bills at the state or local level. In fact, all forms of anti-LGBT nondiscrimination are inherently gender-based—and yet we still urgently need legislation to make clear beyond doubt, once and for all, that LGBT people are protected. The EEOC’s underscores that the entire LGBT community is in the same boat in that regard.
Which is NCTE’s way of saying that the EEOC ruling may help, but it does not (yet) invalidate the need for ENDA.
That is, he’s doing what Congress – the House, specifically – has not done by not yet having passed ENDA.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, praised Obama for “showing strong leadership taking this historic action to advance equality in our country.”
But, Baldwin emphasized, Congress still must act. “The fight to pass on to the next generation an America that is more equal not less does not end with the president’s signature,” she said. “We have more work to do. Every American deserves the freedom to work free from discrimination and last year the Senate found common ground, passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with strong bipartisan support. I will continue to call on the House to put progress ahead of politics and give the Senate-passed ENDA an up or down vote because this legislation provides workplace protections that millions more Americans need and deserve today.”
I’m not convinced Congress will act, however, so at least there’s something in place now.
Last night, the city of Appleton, WI passed a non discrimination ordinance that is inclusive of gender identity and expression. It passed the City Council 12-2, with awesome work by staff, council members, and Fair Wisconsin, and by my wife, who is not always thrilled about having to come out to people but does because it’s important.
It’s pretty damn cool to wake up & realize that I got to be part of getting more people a fair shake, especially those most vulnerable to discrimination.
Appleton is only the third city in the state to manage it (Milwaukee & Madison were first, of course).
The bill is unlikely to gain much traction in the Republican controlled House, but could provide Democrats with another opportunity to paint the GOP as out of step with most Americans by obstructing a bill aimed at ending workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
A Colorado congressman who’s set to become the most senior openly gay member of the U.S. House is pledging to take the lead on perhaps the most high-profile piece of pro-LGBT legislation: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said during a Washington Blade interview on Tuesday that he intends to become the chief sponsor of ENDA following the retirement of gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who’s championed the bill since 2007. “I plan on introducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the next session,” Polis said. “Across our country, gays and lesbians face discrimination in the workplace and lose their jobs and their livelihood. It’s wrong and it’s got to end. People shouldn’t be fired in this country just because of who they date in their private life.”
Nan Hunter, the associate dean for graduate programs at Georgetown Law School who is also the legal scholarship director at the Williams Institute, explained that the president’s authority to issue such an order derives not from existing nondiscrimination law, but rather from the Federal Procurement Act, in his role, essentially, as “the CEO” of the US government. Precedent for such an exercise of power dates back 70 years –– more than two decades prior to the 1964 Civil Rights Act –– to a Franklin D. Roosevelt order regarding racial nondiscrimination by Defense Department contractors as the nation ramped up for World War II.
One key factor about such executive orders –– as distinct from nondiscrimination laws –– is that they do not create a private right of civil action for bias victims. Enforcement is carried out by the Labor Department’s Office of Contract Compliance, which she said has been an effective agent for civil rights protections under administrations friendly to the underlying goal. Regardless of a particular president’s enforcement diligence, however, most government contractors take seriously their obligations under existing orders and regulations, Hunter said.
Still, nothing has happened yet, & it looks like it won’t until after Election Day.
What the hell is going on in this country? While I find most of my students are surprised – and appalled – that there is no federal non-discrimination legislation that includes LGBTQs, states are now passing amendments to prevent any cities or towns in that state from passing any.
That is, states are passing legislation that makes it illegal to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.
Bill Headed to Vote in State Senate Would Gut Nashville’s Anti-LGBT Discrimination Ordinance
Senate Bill 632 – which today passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee by a vote of 6-3 – would strike down local legal protections from discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans, and would make it impossible to pass such protections in the future. It previously passed the House of Representatives (where it was known as House Bill 600) on April 25 by a vote of 73-24. It is expected to be voted upon in the full Senate shortly.
On April 5, 2011, the Nashville and Davidson County Metropolitan Council passed an anti-discrimination ordinance which bars the Nashville government from doing business with any entity that does not prohibit discrimination in employment against LGBT workers. Mayor Karl Dean signed it into law three days later. SB 632 was immediately rushed through the Tennessee House of Representatives by opponents of Nashville’s anti-discrimination ordinance. Their goal was to strike down Nashville’s ordinance and ensure that no city or town in Tennessee could ever enact a law protecting LGBT Tennesseans from discrimination again.
SB 632 is motivated by bias, which is a constitutionally impermissible basis for legislation. It would deprive LGBT Tennesseans of their right to participate in the political process and seek help from their local governments. It would turn lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans into strangers to Tennessee’s government and would violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection under established United States Supreme Court precedent.
“Tennesseans have spoken through their local governments and have stated clearly that they want to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans from discrimination,” said TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans want the same right to live and work free from discrimination that everyone else enjoys. It is unconstitutional for Tennessee to target them by taking away their right to pass local laws that protect them from the discrimination that they face in the cities and towns where they live,” he added. “Tennessee must treat all Tennesseans equally. It violates the Constitution when it closes its doors to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans simply because some people do not like them.”
“This bill is blatantly discriminatory,” said TTPC President Dr. Marisa Richmond. “It is an attempt to deny basic rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Tennesseans and we hope that the Senate will defeat it when it comes up for a vote.”
I’m really starting to wonder if I live in the US anymore. This kind of thinking seems antithetical to what I was always taught was American.
We need a national ENDA, and we need one with teeth.
But the general consensus among Capitol Hill observers is that passage of any pro-LGBT legislation, including ENDA, will be a significant challenge for at least two years with Republicans in control of the U.S. House. Last year, Frank told the Blade there would be “zero chance” for the passage of any legislation that would directly benefit the LGBT community.
Still, Frank said introduction of the legislation is important to educate the public and members of Congress, especially on the transgender protections included in the bill.
“It’s important to introduce it to give people a chance to lobby their members on it,” Frank said. “Having a bill there encourages people to lobby their members. Particularly, we need people to do more lobbying and educating on the transgender issue, and so having a bill there is a very important part of getting the votes ultimately to be able to pass it.”
Honestly, I never expected Rep. Frank to be behind a version that included trans protections; like many (but not all) gay men of his age, he really didn’t seem to get the trans thing at all. (I have no doubt that Diego Sanchez has been educating him from the elbow these past couple of years, either.)
Said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE: “Reading these results is heartbreaking on a personal level—each of these facts and figures represents pain and hardship endured by real people, every single day. This survey is a call to the conscience of every American who believes that everyone has the right to a fair chance to work hard, to have a roof overhead, and to support a family. Equality, not discrimination, is the ideal that Americans believe in, have fought for, and need to apply here.”
Meanwhile, the whip count on ENDA, which Obama also backs, is entering its fifth week. The effort has most recently focused on rechecking support among Members thought to be more comfortable with the legislation than politically imperiled moderates who have raised most of the concerns, one source familiar with the effort said. That, the source said, bodes well for its progress. But many Members remain officially undecided and have quietly voiced frustrations about the prospect of taking a tough vote that they see as a distraction from an agenda focused on job creation.
“It seems to run contrary to what the Speaker said a few months back about focusing on jobs and moving away from these controversial items,” one senior Democratic aide said. “Anything that’s not specifically tied to keeping the economy going raises red flags for folks.”
But Frank said that he is optimistic about the vote count and that transgender protections will remain in the bill.
“There’s no chance of doing it without it,” he said of the transgender protections.
Frank said he’s told wavering Democrats that “the principle is the same. It’s discrimination.”
He said concessions were made in the drafting of the language to address moderates’ concerns. For instance, Frank said, transgender people with “one set of genitals” would not be able to go to a bathroom for people with another set of genitals.
And, Frank said, they also would have to have a “consistent gender presentation” in order to be able to sue for discrimination.
“They can’t sit there with a full beard and a dress,” Frank said.
We’re going to need to make a lot of calls, folks. Stay tuned.
NCTE has a direct action going on. If you’re a trans person or ally who is out of work, you can drop off your resume + cover letter to your local Congressperson, and then send copies to NCTE who will deliver them in person. The idea is to show Congress exactly how much we need ENDA. More below the break: Continue reading “Unemployed Trans + ENDA Direct Action”
More than 16,000 people have signed the petition to get Nancy Pelosi to move ENDA to the House floor for a vote.
There are growing indications that ENDA will move to a markup and a vote in the next two weeks. It is important that we have as strong a showing as possible on the petition in order to demonstrate to wavering members of Congress that there is support.
Please add your name before the petition is delivered by hand next week:
Dear Speaker Nancy Pelosi —
With health care legislation passing, now is the time to institute workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Rep. Tammy Baldwin says she believes that we have the votes to pass ENDA, and Rep. George Miller has said the bill is ready to come out of committee now that the health care bill has passed. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, we call on you to act boldly and decisively and bring ENDA to the floor for a vote now.
Note from Helen: (en)gender is participating in a blogswarm today with Bilerico Project, Daily Kos, Open Left, Towleroad, Pam’s House Blend, Joe My God, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Daily Gotham, Culture Kitchen, Taylor Marsh, Page One Q, and Dan Savage, among others. Contact Speaker Nancy Pelosi and ask that she move the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HR 3017) to a floor vote.
ENDA is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and would prohibit job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Hearings were held in the House and in the Senate to demonstrate the need for the bill, and testimony was heard on the severe unemployment, underemployment and harassment experienced by LGBT workers. Witnesses testified to the scientific studies demonstrating this.
A clue to the inaction: Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly told Democrats that she would not move controversial bills. Meanwhile, the House Committee has stated its readiness to move, but is waiting for a signal from Speaker Pelosi. She doesn’t move it, & we can’t wait any more: there is a majority in both Houses of Congress in favor of ENDA. Now is the time to move it.