While much attention has been focused on the Supreme Court’s consideration of California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense Against Marriage Act, the struggle for LGBT rights extends beyond the right to marry. Currently, twenty-nine states do not prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and thirty-four states do not protect transgender workers.
The protections are sorely needed, as members of the LGBT community, particularly LGBT people of color, face alarmingly high rates of employment discrimination. Studies show that up to 42 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and an astonishing 90 percent of transgender people, have experienced employment discrimination on the job or felt the need to hide their identity to avoid it.
Introduced but never passed in nearly every Congress since 1994, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would prohibit discrimination in hiring, compensation, promotion or firing on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Contact your representative and tell them it’s time to pass this much-needed law.
In a recent piece in The Washington Post, Jamelle Bouie argues that politicians touting their support for marriage equality need to do far more, including pass ENDA, if they want to fully champion LGBT rights.
In June of 2012, Kylar Broadus, the founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition and the first openly transgender witness to testify before Congress, spoke about the need to pass ENDA and to ensure it was inclusive of transgender people. In his testimony, he details his own experience with employment discrimination, including the loss of his job and his development of post-traumatic stress disorder due to harassment.