US House Resolution 3685, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, represents a bold move to enact legislation prohibiting discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation. At face value, the Resolution appears to represent a progressive move towards equality for gays and lesbians in the workplace. Unfortunately, it falls short of that goal. The major shortcoming of this legislation is that it completely ignores the rights of the transgender population in the workforce.
The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) is holding an organizational meeting on November 12, at 7:00 PM, at Borders Bookstore Café, 2801 Wilma Rudolph Blvd., in Clarksville, to present the issue and discuss the reality of and omissions in the non-discrimination law. TEP can assist Montgomery County residents in making their opinions on this bill and other issues of equality heard at both the state and national levels.
Dr. Marisa Richmond, President of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, points out the following faults in the legislation:
- It is unprecedented for Congress to pass civil rights legislation that is not supported by a single organization in the community the law is supposed to protect. According to Richmond, over 300 LGBT organizations representing over 2 million Americans actively oppose any employment nondiscrimination legislation that does not include gender identity.
- HR 3685 does NOT provide sufficient protection against discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.Richmond states that not only does this bill completely fail to protect transgender people, but it also fails to protect lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and straight people who do not conform to gender stereotypes.
- HR 3685 is morally and strategically wrong. Not only is it morally wrong to leave part of the LGBT community out of this bill, but it is also strategically wrong. We have learned from our work in the states that it is far easier to include gender identity in civil rights legislation the first time it is passed than it is to try to go back and add it in later.
The House is voting on this resolution as we read this. What can you do to help stop this inequitable legislation? The most effective way to make your voice heard is to contact US Congressmen Marsha Blackburn or John Tanner at http://www.house.gov/writerep/.