Employee Non-Discrimination Act
Today, the Intergovernmental Relations committee took up the issue of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which is working its way through Congress right now.
A simple summary of this complicated issue is that certain forces within the national Democratic Party have moved to substitute the original ENDA bill (H.R. 2015) with another version (H.R. 3685) that is stripped of any protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. A coalition of GLBT organizations has come together to demand that protections for transgender people be put back in the bill, either by going back to H.R. 2015 or by an amendment to H.R. 3685 put forward by Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin.
One of the arguments used by the opponents of extending employment discrimination protections to transgender people is that this is somehow a new issue. However, the City of Minneapolis disproves this notion: we've had protections against discrimination based on gender identity in our Civil Rights ordinance for decades. In fact, Minneapolis was the first City in the United States to pass employment discrimination protections for transgender people.
Partly to make this point and partly just to show our support for transgender people, I was asked by activists in the Lavender Greens to sponsor a resolution calling on Congress to put the protections for transgender people back in the bill. This morning, my colleague and ally on this issue (among many others) Elizabeth Glidden, who serves on the IGR committee, moved to include support for an inclusive ENDA on the City's Federal Legislative Agenda.
The resolution will be before the Council on Friday, and I expect it to pass. It's always difficult to tell what sort of impact this sort of action will have, but I believe it's important to add our voice to those advocating inclusiveness and fighting discrimination against any members of our community.