LGB Rights Bill: Hold The "T"?

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October 17, 2007


"October was supposed to be a triumph for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, thanks to the recent passage of a comprehensive hate crimes bill in both houses of Congress and what was expected to be a historic vote on HR 2015, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, in the House.

"But instead, a debate over whether rights for transgenders should be included in ENDA is opening the possibility for a profound shift in the gay movement.

"The bill is much more than semantics. In thirty-one states employers can fire an employee simply for being gay, while even more states allow bosses to sack anyone who might be transgender. ENDA is currently on hold over Congressman Barney Frank's move to split the bill in two, with one bill focused mainly on barring employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and a second nondiscrimination bill dealing solely with gender identity ? a bill many gay rights activists feel would never pass a vote.

"...Consider Lambda Legal, the LGBT legal rights organization, which got into a war of letters with Frank over the split bills. Lambda argued that removing gender identity language from ENDA would have unexpected consequences for both gay and straight people who have successfully used similar state nondiscrimination laws to protect themselves in gender expression cases ? for example, an effeminate heterosexual who is harassed by co-workers for not being 'manly enough.' Lambda began a letter to Frank with 'It is not pleasant to have to disagree with a Congressman who has done so much that we admire and who has been a stalwart leader for our community.'"

Read more on thenation.com

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