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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

OutFront Minnesota Action Alert on ENDA

Call Congressman Keith Ellison Today

Tell Him to Vote for the Gender Identity Amendment on ENDA

This week, the U.S. House will take up the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would prevent people from getting fired based on sexual orientation. During the floor session, Representative Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin will introduce an amendment to put gender identity back into the bill, after it was stripped out in late September. Gender identity is a vital part of this legislation, as it protects transgender people as well as gays and lesbians who don't conform to gender stereotypes.

Make sure Congressman Ellison knows that you support a gender identity-inclusive ENDA!

Representative Keith Ellison, (202) 225-4755

Suggested Message:

"Hello, my name is _____ and I live in your district. I am calling to ask the Representative to support the Baldwin Amendment to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The Baldwin Amendment adds gender identity protections back into ENDA and it is critically important to me that all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are protected by this legislation. I only support passage of H.R. 3685 if the Baldwin amendment passes. Thank you."

Meanwhile it looks like Peter LaBarbera's efforts were successful with the White House:




October 23, 2007 (House Rules)


H.R. 3685 – The Employment Non-Discrimination Act

(Rep. Frank (D) MA and 9 cosponsors)

H.R. 3685 would extend existing employment-discrimination provisions of Federal law, including those in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to establish “a comprehensive Federal prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” The bill raises concerns on constitutional and policy grounds, and if H.R. 3685 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

H.R. 3685 is inconsistent with the right to the free exercise of religion as codified by Congress in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Act prohibits the Federal Government from substantially burdening the free exercise of religion except for compelling reasons, and then only in the least restrictive manner possible. H.R. 3685 does not meet this standard. For instance, schools that are owned by or directed toward a particular religion are exempted by the bill; but those that emphasize religious principles broadly will find their religious liberties burdened by H.R. 3685.

A second concern is H.R. 3685’s authorization of Federal civil damage actions against State entities, which may violate States’ immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The bill turns on imprecise and subjective terms that would make interpretation, compliance, and enforcement extremely difficult. For instance, the bill establishes liability for acting on “perceived” sexual orientation, or “association” with individuals of a particular sexual orientation. If passed, H.R. 3685 is virtually certain to encourage burdensome litigation beyond the cases that the bill is intended to reach.

Provisions of this bill purport to give Federal statutory significance to same-sex marriage rights under State law. These provisions conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman. The Administration strongly opposes any attempt to weaken this law, which is vital to defending the sanctity of marriage.

John Aravosis points out an Advocate editorial saying the gay community should grow up on this topic.

In denouncing the sexual-orientation only ENDA, LGBT people achieved a new unity--but one strong enough only to obstruct progress, not create it. When Barney Frank says that members of Congress need to be more educated about the trans struggle before they'll want to help, that's not a transphobic statement. That's just political common sense. And whatever our vision for a perfect piece of legislation, is it smart to give up a goal 30 years in the making only to go back to square one with no gains at all?

The P.C. way is to squelch all dissent. And that keeps us from the real debate we urgently need. Our story as one unified movement is just beginning. Educating the mainstream around ENDA gives us the chance to learn more about each other - to let ourselves ask the questions and have the fights that build a real family. Are we big enough to risk it?