LGBT advocates say federal ENDA to be introduced in Congress on Thursday

ENDA Houston 4The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is expected to be reintroduced in both chambers of Congress on Thursday.

The bill would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBT advocates have been reviewing the legislation the past few months to revise language for small companies and religious entities that would be exempt. However, the changes are not expected to be in the introduced bill, the Washington Blade reports.

In the last session, 40 senators and 171 representatives signed as co-sponsors to the bill. More are expected this session, especially since an increasing number of senators have come out for marriage equality. Dallas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson was a co-sponsor last session, and freshman Reps. Marc Veasey and Beto O’Rourke are expected to support the legislation.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, told the Blade the organization wanted the legislation advanced quickly and hoped to time a vote in the Senate with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in two marriage equality cases.

“After the Supreme Court rules in the Windsor marriage case, many right-wingers are going to denounce marriage equality for same-sex couples, but claim that they don’t believe in discrimination against LGBT Americans,” Almeida said. “That’s the time when we should call some of those bluffs by putting ENDA on the Senate floor and letting all 100 senators go on the record about whether hardworking Americans should get fired just because of who they are or who they love.”

In Texas, a bill to prohibit statewide job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender expression had a hearing in the Senate, but was left pending in committee.

The House versions of the bill, HB 238 by San Antonio Rep. Mike Villarreal and HB 1146 Dallas Democrat Eric Johnson, have hearings scheduled Wednesday in the Economic and Small Business Development Committee.

—  Anna Waugh

Study finds Texas ENDA would protect more than 400,000 LGBT workers

State Rep. Mike Villarreal

If the Texas Legislature passes a bill to ban anti-LGBT employment discrimination in the upcoming session filed by state Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, the law would protect more than 400,000 workers, a new study finds.

The Williams Institute, a prominent LGBT think tank at UCLA, estimated that 431,095 LGBT workers live in Texas, according to U.S. Census data.

Research found adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected categories would have a minimal impact on state agencies and the budget, estimating that the changes would result in 203 more complaints a year. The number of additional complaints came from applying the national average of 4.7 complaints alleging discrimination in the workplace for every 10,000 LGBT workers to Texas’ number of LGBT workers.

The institute focused on research from 2008 that found 37 percent of gay and lesbian respondents to a survey had experienced workplace harassment and 12 percent were fired because of their sexual orientation. A 2010 survey of transgender people revealed that 78 percent experienced mistreatment at work.

“Data from other states show that the LGBT population files discrimination complaints at a rate similar to other protected groups, such as, women and people of color filing on the basis of sex or race,” co-author Christy Mallory, Reid Rasmussen Fellow of Law & Policy, said in a release. “However, the absolute number of complaints we expect to see from LGBT people is very low, because the LGBT population is small compared to other protected populations.”

The cost of reviewing and investigating the complaints by administrators would be low, costing $267,500–$334,400 in the first year and $248,600–$310,800 each subsequent year.

“We expect that enforcing these additional complaints will only cost the state approximately $300,000 in the first year; and the expenses will drop in the following years,” said co-author M.V. Lee Badgett, Williams Institute research director. “Although there is some administrative cost associated with enforcing these laws, they can also have positive effects on businesses and the state.”

 

—  Anna Waugh

BUSINESS BRIEFS: AA endorses ENDA, Allstate recognizes Long

AA endorses ENDA

FORT WORTH — American Airlines has again advocated the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The airline supported the bill in 2008 and 2009 in correspondence with congressional leaders. In its current letter of endorsement, American Airlines wrote:

“On behalf of our 80,000 employees, American Airlines is proud to express our strong support for S. 811 and H.R. 1397, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would extend basic job protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. We are proud to have been the first major airline to implement same-sex domestic partner benefits, first to implement both sexual orientation and gender identity in our workplace non-discrimination policies, and first to have a recognized LGBT employee resource group — GLEAM.

“Our endorsement of ENDA is consistent with our longstanding ‘Statement of Equal Opportunity.’ The principles fostered by ENDA are consistent with our corporate principles in treating all employees with fairness and respect.”

Allstate recognizes Long

Allstate Insurance Company has recognized Alex Long, one of its gay agency owners, with the Chairman’s Award for high standards in customer satisfaction, customer retention and financial services sales.

Alex Long Agency is one of about 14 percent of Allstate agency owners and personal financial representatives in Texas to reach this level of achievement.

Long participates in the Lone Star Ride, is a member of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce and volunteers with Resource Center Dallas. His agency is at 2700 N. O’Connor Road in Irving.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Rick Perry deluded; Okla. sees big jump in gay couples; American backs ENDA

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Gov. Rick Perry is apparently operating under the delusion that he’s a minister and the state of Texas is his church, according to the transcript of a speech Perry made to East Texas business leaders in May to raise money for his “day of prayer and fasting” in Houston on Aug. 6. “At 27 years old, I knew that I had been called to the ministry,” Perry said, according to the transcript obtained by the Houston Chronicle. “I’ve just always been really stunned by how big a pulpit I was gonna have. I still am. I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.”

2. New Census data released today shows a big increase in the number of same-sex couples in Oklahoma. Anti-gay State Rep. Sally Kern says she isn’t surprised but finds the situation “regrettable”: “I think the influence of the church plays a factor here, we have more churches today … that are saying homosexuality does not go against biblical truth,” Kern said. “Another factor is homosexuality is being taught in our schools as a normal and acceptable lifestyle, so when that happens, you are going to have more young people coming out of school who have a more favorable attitude towards homosexuality.”

3. Fort Worth-based American Airlines has again expressed support for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban workplace discrimination against LGBT people. In a letter to members of Congress, the airline writes: “On behalf of our 80,000 employees, American Airlines is proud to express our strong support for S. 811 and H.R. 1397, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would extend basic job protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. We are proud to have been the first major airline to implement same-sex domestic partner benefits, first to implement both sexual orientation and gender identity in our workplace non-discrimination policies, and first to have a recognized LGBT employee resource group – GLEAM. Our endorsement of ENDA is consistent with our longstanding ‘Statement of Equal Opportunity.’ The principles fostered by ENDA are consistent with our corporate principles in treating all employees with fairness and respect.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Gay Marine from N. Texas reacts to court’s order halting DADT enforcement

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. In the wake of Wednesday’s order from a federal appeals court halting enforcmeent of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” we checked in with a gay active-duty Marine from North Texas whom we profiled last year to see what the development means to him. Here’s what he said:

“I was VERY happy to hear that. I’m not really sure about what will happen next. I hope that the president and justice department will leave it at this and not push it to the Supreme Court. This law has gone on entirely too long already. Why keep something hanging on by a thread that we know is so close to being over? It wouldn’t make any sense. But like I said before, I will not be satisfied until there is a full repeal. I have came out to most people in my unit. So I don’t think there will be too much of a change for me except that I won’t have the thought of discharge lingering over my head, and I won’t have to hide my partner (he isn’t currently open with his unit).”

2. New York City will open clerk’s offices in all five boroughs on a Sunday — July 24 — so same-sex couples can marry on the first day it’s legal, The New York Times reports. We kept waiting for the quote from some tea party homophobe about wasting tax dollars and defiling the Lord’s Day, but it never came.

3. Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill prohibiting workplace discrimination based on gender identity and expression on Wednesday, making Connecticut the 15th state to do so, Raw Story reports. As you can see from the map below, Texas remains one of about 30 states where you can still be legally fired for being gay or transgender. And let’s face it, that will never change until the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act is passed. Speaking of which, where the hell is ENDA?

—  John Wright

Pelosi vows votes on ENDA, DADT this year

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

We couldn’t squeeze it into this week’s print edition, but over on the main page we’ve posted an update from Lisa Keen on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” Read it by going here.

—  John Wright

GetEQUAL plans ENDA picket today

Rally outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco office on Tuesday. (Rex Wockner)
Protesters gathered outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office on Tuesday. (Rex Wockner)

GetEQUAL plans an emergency picket on Capitol Hill at noon today to demand that Democratic leaders in Congress live up to their promise of holding votes this year on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. As we reported last week, time is running out for the legislation to be considered year. From GetEQUAL’s press release:

Legislative action on the bill has already fallen victim to numerous postponements surrounded by a lot of rhetoric, without any real action. The legislation has yet to be scheduled for a floor vote in either the House or the Senate and according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s legislative calendar, less than 45 full voting days remain before Congress adjourns for the mid-term elections nearly six months from now in November. Today’s GetEQUAL protest, to be held at the corner of Independence Ave. SE and 1st St SE (by the Library of Congress), is the latest in a series of actions the grassroots LGBT organization has taken this week to push for a vote to be scheduled now on ENDA.

“We’ve heard all we can stand to hear from leaders in Congress, they promised a vote this calendar year and we expect them to honor their word,” said Robin McGhee, co-founder of GetEQUAL. “As the window continues to slowly close on available legislative calendar dates to vote on ENDA in the House and in the Senate, we will continue to hold Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid accountable for the direct promise they made to the LGBT community. Our community has done the work to lobby and educate members of Congress on the need for a fully inclusive ENDA and now is the time to stop the talking and start the voting.”

This past Tuesday, GetEQUAL and other groups staged a rally outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office, shown above. They also reportedly plan a second rally at the same location today. For more on the status of both ENDA and the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell,” see Friday’s Voice.

—  John Wright

Washington newspaper justifies discrimination

TWTlogo

The Washington Times is the daily newspaper you can recommend to friends who think of the Dallas Morning News as “the liberal media.”

Until a year or two ago, they refused to use the word gay. They still don’t use transgender. Gender identity goes in quotes as does marriage when it refers to a same-sex couple.

Last week, they ran an editorial entitled, “Discrimination is Necessary.”

Had the paper been around 50 years ago, the first sentence would have been similar:

“First-graders should not be forced into the classrooms of teachers undergoing sex changes” would have read, “First-graders should not be forced into the classrooms of teachers of other races.”

But for those who are worried about “she-male” (their word for transgender, used repeatedly) teachers, ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that is the target of their rant, addresses such concerns.

To make their point, they make ridiculous comparisons. They say that ENDA “purports” and then quote from the bill. It doesn’t “purport.” It does it. Except among people who refuse to comply and will discriminate anyway. But then they compare it to something else:

ENDA purports to “prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Clever politically correct wording aside, this is a direct attack on common sense. On some matters, it is good to be discriminating. It is right to discriminate between honesty and dishonesty, between politeness and impoliteness, between right and wrong.

They compare being gay to dishonesty, impoliteness and being wrong. The first difference is that sexual orientation and gender identity have nothing to do with work. Dishonesty does. If I steal from my employer, I put him out of business. If I’m gay and good at my job, I keep him in business. But according to the Washington Times editorial board, it’s better to be straight, a thief and crappy at your job than gay and good at it.

You see, the majority has rights too, according to the Washington Times. If the majority doesn’t want to put up with black people, they shouldn’t have to. If the majority doesn’t like Jews, get rid of them. If the majority doesn’t like gays, fire them. If the majority doesn’t like transgender people … well you get the idea.

A big concern of the paper is that transgender people have a psychological disorder. However, the transgender people I know have been through counseling and are a lot less disturbed than the paranoid writer of the Washington Times editorial.

I love the last sentence of this diatribe.

“Our children and our co-workers should not be forced by law to be held hostage to such disorders, nor should employers be forced to have psychologically troubled persons as the public face of their businesses.”

That’s right. The minority should be “held hostage” to the whims of the majority. And employers should be free to hire dumb blondes with big boobs to be the public face of their businesses. Not that there’s anything wrong with dumb blondes or big boobs. If they do their jobs, they have a right to work too.

—  David Taffet

Straight guy claims discrimination based on sexual orientation

A salesman at Gucci’s 5th Avenue store in New York City said he was fired because he’s straight and filed a $5 million lawsuit, according to the New York Daily News.

Untitled 1The story is interesting mostly because of the way it is mishandled. Nowhere in the article does the writer point out that it is perfectly legal to fire someone because of sexual orientation. Heterosexual is a sexual orientation and this employee may have been the victim of discrimination. That’s why we need ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination  Act. It will protect everyone, because everyone has a sexual orientation.

The next thing that the story misses is that the guy may have been fired because of his sexual orientation (perfectly wrong but legal) but the scenario they describe details sexual harassment. Now, that’s illegal no matter which sexes are involved. Sexual harassment has to do with a higher ranking employee making the workplace uncomfortable for other employees through the use of sex. That’s a case this guy could win, if the details as described by the paper, are true.

—  David Taffet

ENDA 4 get 6 months probation

The ENDA 4: Chastity Kirven is third from left
The ENDA 4: Chastity Kirven is third from left

The ENDA 4 received a sentence of 6 months probation. Chastity Kirven just contacted Dallas Voice with the news and forwarded the picture above taken after the hearing. During her probation, Kirven must stay away from the Capitol and related offices. Violation could result in serving the time in jail.

Get Equal’s release said, “The ENDA 4 have been sentenced to 6 months of staying out of Nancy Pelosi’s office.”

Two of the ENDA 4 were from Washington D.C. and also were given community service as part of their sentence. Kirven said she and one other did not because they were from out of state.

A rally in support of them and their goal of getting the Employment Non-discrimination Act out of committee and to the floor of the House for a vote will take place today at 3:30 outside the office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The office is located in the hotels.com building on Central Expressway north of Meadow Road. Similar rallies will be held in Austin, Houston and San Antonio and in other cities across the country.

—  David Taffet