Thursday, October 18, 2007

Trans-less ENDA Moves To House Vote

by Newscenter Staff
Posted: October 18, 2007 - 12:40 pm ET

(Washington) The revised Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in the workplace, but with references to gender identity removed, is headed to a vote on the House floor following approval Thursday in committee.

The House Education and Labor Committee voted 27 - 21 to mark up the legislation, sending it to a full vote in the House.

A number of Democrats on the committee attempted to reinsert gender identity without success. Several of them refused to vote in favor of marking up the bill as it stands - among them presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

GOP attempts to weaken the bill also failed.

Protections for transsexuals were removed by the bill's author, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), after it became apparent there were enough votes to pass ENDA only with gender identity.

The decision, however, has divided the LGBT community.

When the revised bill reaches the floor of the House, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will introduce an amendment that would add trans protections.

Baldwin said Wednesday that she has secured an agreement from the Democratic leadership to introduce the amendment.

Frank's decision to strip ENDA of gender identity was seen by some as a "necessary evil" in order to get any LGBT measure passed. But more than 300 community groups - including National Stonewall Democrats - opposed it.

As opposition mounted a number of organizations met last Friday with Speaker Nancy Pelosi who gave assurances that once ENDA becomes law and as soon as there is enough support for amendments adding back in the protections for transsexuals that version would also be presented.

HRC called the the process less than ideal but acceptable. It was rejected outright by the other major LGBT rights groups.

Baldwin's proposal appears to be acceptable, however, to those groups who formed an umbrella organization called United ENDA. Observers say the amendment is unlikely to pass.

Republicans and some Democrats say they will attempt to kill all of ENDA using a manuever to send it back to committee where it would most likely languish and die in the current session.

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