WASHINGTON - The Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Education and Labor today heard testimony in support of H.R. 2015, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. ENDA would ban workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. Witnesses included Nancy Kramer, founder and CEO of Resource Interactive, based in Columbus, Ohio and Officer Michael P. Carney, a Massachusetts police officer, and Brooke Waits, a Texas cell phone company employee, both terminated because of anti-gay job discrimination Prof. Lee Badgett of the University of California - Los Angeles Williams Institute Prof. Helen Norton of the University of Colorado School of Law and Kelly Baker, vice president of diversity at General Mills. Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, also submitted written testimony to the subcommittee.
"It is time for a federal law that would make it illegal to fire a GLBT person just because of who they are," said Solmonese. "ENDA will bring the value of meritocracy to a community that has had to do without it for too long."
ENDA is sponsored by Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. and Christopher Shays, R-Conn. It is currently legal to fire workers on the basis of their sexual orientation in 31 states and on the basis of gender identity and expression in 39 states. Corporate America has already taken significant steps toward this goal, with almost 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies now including sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies.
Carney and Waits, the two fired workers, will talk about their personal experiences with anti-gay discrimination in the workplace. Badgett will discuss the statistics surrounding workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Norton will cover the legal aspects of the legislation, and Baker will describe how General Mills' anti-discrimination policy has contributed to its corporate success. Kramer will discuss how her small business's inclusive policies have strengthened its ability to compete.
"Passing ENDA will not create a burden on businesses, large or small," said Kramer. "Instead, it will ensure that hardworking GLBT Americans can earn a living, provide for their families and contribute to the innovation and creativity that makes American business great."
"One's sexual orientation or gender identity simply must not bar a person from the opportunity to achieve his or her potential, to support her family or to contribute to his or her community," continued Solmonese. "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. ENDA will bring the GLBT community, at last, under the protection of federal civil rights law. The time has come to pass it."
Read Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese's complete testimony submitted to Congress.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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