Thursday, 18 March 2010

For Readers in the USA...

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, first introduced in 1994, would prohibit job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. But LGBT people have never been able to achieve the enactment of the bill, known by the acronym of "ENDA".

Last year, the Administration's highest ranking gay official, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, indicated that ENDA was highest priority on the LGBT civil rights agenda.
"If we can get ENDA enacted and signed into law, it is only a matter of time before all the rest happens," he said. "It is the keystone that holds up the whole bunch, and so we need to focus our energies and attention there."
Hearings were held last Fall in the House and in the Senate to demonstrate the need for the bill, and testimony was heard on the severe unemployment, underemployment and harassment experienced by LGBT workers. Witnesses testified to the scientific studies demonstrating this.

But nothing has happened. Click here to find out why and join us in swarming Speaker Pelosi's office.

Please call Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965. Ask that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HR 3017, move to a vote.

Please be polite, but firm.

If you can't get through there, try the number of her local office in California - (415) 556 4862

After you call, please tell us how the call went by clicking here. If you get a busy signal or hang up, let us know that too.

A single phone call, even if it gets unanswered, could make a difference, if many of us do this.

As a darned furriner, an Australian, I have no right to take direct action. But I can and will encourage readers in the US to take it.


Angela said...

No mention of intersex. So is intersex excluded then?

Zoe Brain said...

Some IS conditions are covered under the Americans with Disabilities act. The rest would be covered by ENDA under the Gender Identity and Presentation section.

Zimbel said...

Wouldn't the members (and particularly the chair) of the House Committee on Education and Labor be the better ones to target than the house leadership? Or was this more of a show of strength than a direct effort to get a bill passed? My understanding is that without a markup by that committee, the odds of its overall passage are decreased.

In any case, I favor ENDA, and have informed my Congresspeople of my support (multiple times, for years). I know my Representative and I think my Senators are in favor, but they aren't on the relevant committees.

Zoe Brain said...

The HCEL has been directed by Pelosi to sit on the bill. They'll do nothing while she calls the shots.

This has been the case since November last year, when it was supposed to go to the House.

Zoe Brain said...

Zimbel - see this.

And this:
Posted by Tina Walker-Morin in November 25th 2009

As we alerted you earlier this month, a House committee vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), was originally scheduled for Wednesday, November 18, but was then postponed at the last minute.The vote on ENDA now hangs in the balance!

To ensure that ENDA moves forward, we need to you call the Committee and Representative George Miller at 202-225-3725 and ask for the Committee to schedule the Vote on ENDA before the end of this year!

And before that, this:
Posted by Tina Walker-Morin in November 18th 2009

Lawyers Tweak ENDA Language
By Kerry Eleveld

A House committee vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, originally scheduled for Wednesday, November 18, was postponed so that lawyers could adjust the legal language regarding issues of disparate impact, double recovery, and attorney’s fees.

“Our understanding is that the committee lawyers wanted a few more days to look at several of the outstanding issues,” said Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign.

ENDA would prohibit employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The legal fine-tuning stands to push back the date of the committee vote by about two to three weeks. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to see a markup after Thanksgiving and before the end of the year,” Herwitt said.

Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, lead sponsor of the bill, has suggested the full House vote might not take place until February of next year.

The HRC said it was "A few more days...." Yeah, right.

Barney Frank said in the worst case it might be as long as February 2010. Yeah, right.

It's now late March. Enough with the Bullshitting we've been getting. The so-called "markup" issues were obviously bogus at the time, the language was already quite clear on all of those points.

Zoe Brain said...

From Bilerico (where there's URLs dealing with the whole sad story)

Various sponsors promised that the bill would move to a vote in August, September, October, and November of 2009. But in order to go to a vote, the bill had to pass through the House Committee on Education and Labor via a "markup" procedure. Markup was finally scheduled for November 18, 2009. But at the last minute, the markup was postponed, and has still not been rescheduled.

Initially, the Committee said that some technical language required tweaking, ostensibly to insure that plaintiffs could not recover too much money or attorney fees, and to prevent lawsuits based on inadvertent discrimination. But it has become increasingly clear that something else is at work.

A clue to the inaction: Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly told Democrats that she would not move controversial bills. Meanwhile, the House Committee has stated its readiness to move, but is waiting for a signal from Speaker Pelosi.

Now a concerted campaign of blogswarms, sit-ins, and other actions start. This is just the beginning. It may not work - but waiting around certainly won't.

Leslie Ann said...

This is very much a case of the Democrats not wanting to provide Republicans with a wedge issue in the fall elections. It's already pretty certain that the Dems will lose their super-majority in the Senate, and now they fear losing one or both houses of Congress to the right. Republicans would LOVE this bill to get pushed through, creating grist for the mudslinging to come.

Zoe Brain said...

Leslie Ann - I think there are few people who would change their vote to GOP just to retain the right to fire people for being gay.

Those that normally would are already voting GOP because of the Health Care issue, the Economic disaster, the rampant corruption, etc etc etc

Leslie Ann said...

The purpose of the wedge issue is not to change votes, but to get your people out to the polls. The gay marriage hoohah in '04 got Republicans up in arms and to the polls to vote for their pal George. We Americans are terribly apathetic about this wonderful right to vote that we have been given.

A good election sees 40% of registered voters at the polls. With all the UNregistered people, fewer than 20% of adults sometimes decide who is governing. Being able to use "gay" rights to impassion the party base can make a HUGE difference in the outcome.

It's not about changing votes, it's about putting more voters on your end of the seesaw.

Zimbel said...

I see; so that was already tried. I guess I'll contact the Speaker, although I don't hold out much hope for success. One positive note is that Rep. Baldwin thinks that the House has the votes.


Zimbel said...

@Leslie Ann-

While I agree with your definition and usage of wedge issues, I'm skeptical that this is still a useful wedge issue for Republicans; there simply isn't the division on this that there is for, say, gay marriage.

For example, according to this overview of Gallup polls on this issue, even though roughly 40% respond that gays and lesbians should be imprisoned (or fined? it isn't clear from the question) for sex, roughly 8% respond that homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to work.

Considering that 89% favor homosexuals being allowed to work, it sounds like it would be a negative wedge issue, if it would have any significant impact.