Friday, September 10, 2010

Little Progress for ENDA Despite Persistence

A few tremors have awakened a continuously neglected issue as certain organizations worked to bring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) back to the forefront of the mind of both the public as well as our elected officials. ENDA is a federal bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. First, on Wednesday evening in California, members of GetEQUAL, One Struggle One Fight, and Pride at Work disrupted a debate between Representative George Miller and his Republican opponent Rick Tubbs to demand action on the bill. Miller is chair of the U.S. House Education and Labor committee, where the bill is currently tied up.

GetEQUAL in particular has been amplifying pressure on officials through direct actions aimed at advancing the legislation before the new Congress takes office in January. Thursday evening, the group planned to close Market Street in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, an area within the congressional district represented by Nancy Pelosi, displaying a sign that reads, "Pelosi: When Jobs are Lost, the Market Stops.”

The frustration stems from Miller’s remarks in mid-March of this year, telling the Washington Blade that he would move ENDA from committee “right after healthcare.” Two months after healthcare passed, PFLAG National’s Executive Director, Jody Huckaby, joined other LGBT rights leaders and community members at the National Press Club, demanding immediate action in both the House and Senate on the bill. And yet, four months after this press conference and countless protests, LGBT Americans are still waiting to receive protections from the very real and pervasive employment discrimination they continue to experience daily.

This reinvigoration of the campaign to draw attention to the bill is the latest in a series of hearings, press conferences and direct actions that have spanned the last year. Despite the repeated efforts by PFLAG and other LGBT and ally organizations, there is fear that the bill has been bumped from the current legislative calendar. Despite the perceived loss of momentum, many PFLAG chapters continue to educate their Congress members about the importance of extending workplace protections to the many LGBT people living in 38 states lacking fully inclusive protections.

We must continue to take action today by calling our elected officials and urging them to support the bill, reminding them that every day we live without the passage of ENDA is another day Congress turns a blind eye to the pervasive discrimination LGBT people experience in workplaces daily.

To learn more about 5 simple things you can do to help pass ENDA today, please click here.

This post was written by Eric VanDreason, the newest edition to PFLAG National’s Policy Team. To learn more about Eric and his role at the National Office, please visit our staff page here.

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