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Friday, November 16, 2007

Keith Ellison on ENDA

Press Release: Ellison Applauds Landmark Civil Rights Bill | Print |
Wednesday, 07 November 2007

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) today praised the passage of the most far-reaching expansion of civil rights legislation to gain approval by the House of Representatives since the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as originally written simply addresses discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It would reinforce the principle that employment decisions should be based upon a person’s qualifications and job performance.

Ellison, a cosponsor of ENDA championed the bill in its original form which prohibited workplace bias against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. However, the inclusion of transgender individuals was dropped from the legislation as it reached the floor when it was determined that including the group at this time might jeopardize passage of the entire bill.

“While I understand the concerns of those fearing the viability of the entire bill, there is never a convenient time to give an oppressed minority greater rights. You just have to do the right thing. Today we did not do right by transgender people,” Ellison stated. “I will not rest until we do.”

The bill would have little effect in Minnesota where broad sexual orientation and gender identity protections have been in effect since 1993.

“I’m proud of the protections we Minnesotans extend to all our citizens. Such protection should be the law of the land. You don’t have to approve of everything people do; you don’t have to understand everything people do. But the lifestyle one lives should be respected just as we respect one’s religion or race,” Ellison said. “Over forty years ago, we passed the landmark Civil Rights Act (of 1964) that banned discrimination when employing people in certain circumstances. We found that discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex or national origin were not only bad business decisions – but should be unlawful. Missing from that equation was sexual orientation and gender identity. Today we made a giant step in correcting those omissions,” the Congressman stated.

Most of America’s smartest business minds understand that a person’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with their job performance. That is why a majority of America’s largest employers have already implemented this policy. Unfortunately, Congressional action is needed because there are still too many jobs where Americans can be fired simply for being who they are.

Many of Minnesota’s most prominent companies and institutions already prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They include: 3M, Best Buy, Ecolab, General Mills, Medtronic, NW Airlines, Target, United Health Group, Xcel Energy, Kandiyohi and Ramsey Counties to name a few.

Others such as Delta Dental Plan of Minnesota, Faegre & Benson, SUPERVALU, FilmTec Corporation and the Minnesota AIDS Project are even more forward-thinking in their operational standards by declaring both sexual orientation and gender identity discriminatory. “I commend them for doing so,” the 5th District Congressman said.

“It took us almost 200 years to outlaw workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national identity. That was too long. It has taken us still another 40+ years to strike a further blow for dignity in the workplace by eliminating one of the last remaining vestiges of discriminatory behavior – sexual orientation,” Ellison stated. “That too has taken too long, yet I am proud to strike that blow. However, in the America of 2007 barriers denying the full and complete realization of every one of God’s children their potential should not exist at all. And yet they do. I will not be still until the last of those barriers – gender identity – is struck down and tossed into the dustbin of American discriminatory history,” Ellison concluded.



Anonymous said...

I have to say that I completely disagree with ENDA and sadly it's of no surprise to read about Ellison's support here. He is nothing if not a predictable talking head for the "protected" classes.

Why should anybody be afforded special protection in the eyes of the law? This is nothing more than another tool for the trial lawyers and yet another way to further create separation within the masses. ENDA serves no real purpose outside of adding to the legal burden and creating more tension and contempt between the gay and straight communities.

Do people really need special treatment just because they prefer members of the same sex? I think not. ENDA is nothing more than bad legislation being pushed onward by political correctness and fear of looking insensitive in the public eye.