Tuesday, October 02, 2007

ENDA Update

The news has been coming fast and furiously since transphobic Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) tried to pull HR 2015, the transgender-inclusive ENDA and split it into separate bills. He created a firestorm of controversy, a political black eye for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and almost touched off a GLBT civil war.

I'm reminded of an old African-American community saying that's apropos in this mess.

If you dig a grave for someone else, better dig one for yourself.

In Barney's haste to screw the trannies, he screwed his OWN community. It turns out that Lambda Legal did a preliminary analysis of HR 3685 (which I'll call Frank's Folly).

Lambda Legal is an organization that has worked on employment discrimination issues for a long time in the GLBT community. They have also represented clients who have faced discrimination or harassment at work based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Lambda Legal's preliminary assessment of the revised version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HR 3685) shows the bill to be riddled with loopholes in addition to failing altogether to protect transgender people against discrimination.

"Leaving out protections for transgender people is unacceptable, and passing a bill riddled with loopholes will make it harder to achieve equality on the job," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director at Lambda Legal. "You can't be fired for being a lesbian or a gay man, but you can be fired if your boss thinks you fit their stereotype of one."

"After working together for so many years on a bill to provide protections for the LGBT community on the job — we can do better than this," Cathcart added.

Preliminary Analysis Summary:

*As a point of clarity for the community: The recent version (HR 3685)is not simply the old version with the transgender protections stripped out — but rather has modified the old version in several additional and troubling ways.

*In addition to the missing vital protections for transgender people on the job, this new bill also leaves out a key element to protect any employee, including lesbians and gay men who may not conform to their employer's idea of how a man or woman should look and act.

This is a huge loophole through which employers sued for sexual orientation discrimination can claim that their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill (HR 3685) does not prohibit.

*This version of ENDA states without qualification that refusal by employers to extend health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of their employees that are provided only to married couples cannot be considered sexual orientation discrimination.

The old version (HR 2015) at least provided that states and local governments could require that employees be provided domestic partner health insurance when such benefits are provided to spouses.

*In the previous version of ENDA (HR 2015) the religious exemptions had some limitations.

The new version has a blanket exemption under which, for example, hospitals or universities run by faith-based groups can fire or refuse to hire people they think might be gay or lesbian.

No comments: