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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

70% of Gays Support Getting ENDA Done - Even Without Transgender Inclusion


According to a new poll, 70% of LGBT Americans prefer passing an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that does not cover transgender people over not passing the bill at all. The poll, commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign and conducted on October 26, surveyed 500 members of the LGBT community across the country.

The version of ENDA sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank, which does not include job protections for transgender Americans, was voted out of the House of Representatives rules committee Monday night and is very likely to be voted on Wednesday. Rep. Tammy Baldwin may offer her amendment to add transgender protections to H.R. 3685. If she does, it will be debated but will likely pulled from the floor without a vote as soon as the debate ends.

HRC president Joe Solmonese said the poll numbers weren’t immediately obvious to him or the organization before they conducted the polling.

“There were so many people out there speaking so emphatically about where the entire community was that I thought maybe we should get a sense of it, and that’s why we did the poll,” he said. “So it was surprising to me, but I think it really speaks to the fact that there’s a big diverse community of GLBT Americans all across the country.”

The poll specifically asked: “This proposal would make it illegal to fire gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers because of their sexual orientation. This proposal does not include people who are transgender. Would you favor or oppose this proposal moving forward?” Seventy percent favored moving forward with the legislation.

The poll also asked people if they agreed that “national gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organizations should oppose this proposal because it excludes transgender people.” Only about 20% of the people agreed with that statement.

However, about 70% of people polled still believe that protections for transgender people should be included in the ENDA proposal, as they did in a poll conducted in 2004 -- but they also favor passing a noninclusive ENDA as a path to gaining those protections for transgender workers. This shows a shift from 2004, when 70% of LGB respondents indicated trans inclusion was important even if it caused delay.

HRC has come out in support of the Frank’s noninclusive ENDA.

“We’re on the brink of a historic step in the right direction toward what we’re all fighting for,” said Solmonese, “and with a bill on the floor, regardless of whether you think it ever should have gotten there or not, I would hope that most people think it’s important for our entire community that the bill pass rather than fail.”

Mike Signorile interviews Joe Solmonese about this.

I happen to agree with the incremental strategy with ENDA. However, I also believe that HRC lied to transgender advocates on multiple occasions about this issue. I think these lies cost Solmonese some credibility.