HRC Blog

Senate HELP Committee Holds ENDA Hearing

Post submitted by Michael Cole-Schwartz, Former HRC Director of Communications

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) held a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) this morning – shining a light on the workplace protections LGBT employees still lack in so many states across the country.

ENDA would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.  Currently such protections exist in only 21 states and DC for sexual orientation and 16 states and DC for gender identity.

HRC President Chad Griffin submitted testimony to the Senate committee, saying in part:

But our nation’s failure to protect LGBT Americans in the workplace does not simply deny equal opportunity to those struggling to succeed in the workforce today.  It tells young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that their futures are not as limitless as their peers’ – that before they have even had a chance to dream, some doors are already closed to them.  Earlier this month, HRC released a report entitled “Growing Up LGBT in America” based on a nationwide survey of more than 10,000 LGBT-identified young people.  The survey starkly demonstrates how we are failing LGBT youth, who broadly encounter harassment, bullying, ostracism and rejection.  And while they are also resilient, a large majority believes they must leave their hometowns to find happiness, compared to less than a third of their straight peers.  Forty-one percent of LGBT youth believe they must move to a new city or town simply to have a good job. 

… Over the past half-century, our nation has moved steadily closer to making the American Dream a reality for all Americans.  Congress and the President have recognized that race, sex, national origin, religion, age and disability are irrelevant to the ability of a person to do a job and have enacted laws to address discrimination based on those characteristics.  These civil rights laws have improved job opportunities for millions of Americans, raising standards of living and providing hope of a better future for each successive generation.  Congress must act to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have access to that same opportunity.   

Read Chad’s full testimony.

Americans overwhelmingly support LGBT workplace non-discrimination laws.  According to a November 2011 poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for HRC, 77 percent of voters support protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment.  The support for employment protections defies conventional political wisdom, reaching across party and ideological lines.  Seventy percent of self-identified Republicans and 67 percent of conservatives support anti-discrimination laws.  Support is strong even among groups who tend to be less supportive of LGBT issues, such as seniors (69 percent among voters over age 65), those with a high school degree or less (68 percent), observant Christians (77 percent), born-again Christians (74 percent), and residents of the Deep South (72 percent).

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