Thursday, November 08, 2007

Non Discrimination Act passes House!

From an email from the Human Rights Campaign:

Today, I witnessed something that just a year ago seemed nearly impossible. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). We are one step closer to our ultimate goal of ensuring that all GLBT Americans no longer live in fear of losing their jobs.

The progress we've made today is historic - it is the first time either house of Congress has passed employment protections of this kind. It took over 30 years of lobbying and grassroots political work to get to this point, and while the bill that finally passed was not the fully inclusive version we sought, this represents a major advance - and the best way to move towards our long-term goal of protecting our entire community.

HRC first helped introduce ENDA 13 years ago, to prevent workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. This year, gender identity was added to the bill. Unfortunately, gender identity was not covered in the version that passed today, but this vote was a first and absolutely necessary step towards equality for GLBT people in the workplace. That's why HRC joined with a coalition of major civil rights groups who declared support for the bill before the final vote, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR includes more than 192 national civil rights organizations), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), and the National Education Association (NEA).

Supporting this version of the bill was a difficult and painful decision. But, without a doubt, the only path to achieving a bill protecting our whole community was by achieving the successful House vote today. A defeat of ENDA would have set back the possibility of an inclusive bill for many, many years. HRC remains 100% committed to doing the hard work necessary to pass legislation that protects our entire community, including transgender workers who remain especially vulnerable to workplace discrimination.

Today, we continue our determined march towards progress. And we recommit ourselves to educating our leaders and our neighbors, to speed the day when our community will be protected, as one. Your support has enabled HRC to lead the way in this struggle. We have formed strategic alliances in Congress, activated an unprecedented number of grassroots supporters, met with editorial boards, brought clergy to Washington to lobby their elected officials, and worked with the corporate community to expand GLBT workplace protections. We spent years defending ourselves from anti-GLBT attacks from the radical right. Now we are on the offense. But make no mistake: the extremists who work against us every day will be working overtime to hold back our progress.

Our fight will not be won overnight - it will be won one step at a time. This has been a grueling few weeks for our community, but we have never once given up on achieving our ultimate goal of workplace equality for GLBT Americans. Along this road, there will be challenges, but we must not allow them to divide us. We know we are working towards the same goal: equal rights for all.

We can get there, together, and we will.

Joe Solmonese

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