Vermont Governor Signs Non-Discrimination Bill Into Law

by HRC Staff

MONTPELIER, VT. - On May 22, 2007, Vermont's Republican Gov. Jim Douglas signed into law a bill extending existing anti-discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, public accommodations, housing, insurance and credit services.

The law had very strong and bipartisan support in both houses of the Vermont Legislature. The state Senate voted 27 to 1 and the House of Representatives voted 118 to 28 to pass the bill.

"The Human Rights Campaign applauds Governor Douglas and the impressive majority of legislators who took this important action to advance fairness and equality for Vermonters," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We also congratulate Republican Senator Diane Snelling and Democratic Representative Bill Lippert, who sponsored the legislation, as well as all the HRC members in Vermont who worked hard to get these important protections enacted into law. With this law, transgender Vermonters can be more secure in the knowledge that they are equally protected from discrimination."

When the law becomes effective on July 1, 2007, Vermont will be the ninth U.S. state to ban workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Currently, workplace protection laws exist in California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Washington state, as well as Washington, D.C. Oregon recently enacted a law, effective Jan. 1, 2008, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. Iowa and Colorado have also passed legislation banning discrimination based on gender identity. In 1991, Vermont amended its anti-discrimination laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Solmonese added, "While we applaud this new law, we recognize that there are still 33 states where it is legal to fire someone from their job based on their sexual orientation, and there will still be 41 states where it is legal to fire someone based on their gender identity. These inequalities highlight the need for federal legislation, in the form of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, that would prohibit such discrimination nationwide."

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, a bipartisan piece of federal legislation, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 24, 2007. This legislation would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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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