Senator Casey (D- PA) Statement on ENDA Hearing; the Status of Employment Equality in PA

Senator Casey oft considered a very moderate Democrats is co-sponsoring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)which would prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today attended a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  Senator Casey, a cosponsor of ENDA, called for the hearing in a bipartisan letter to the HELP Committee last month.

“I’m pleased that the Senate’s HELP Committee held a hearing today on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” said Senator Casey. “I hope that this is the first step towards swift and bipartisan passage in both the Senate and the House. ENDA embodies the American ideal of fairness: employees should be judged on their skills and abilities in the workplace, and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

This week’s hearing was groundbreaking as the first transperson gave official testimony. (Watch the video)

ENDA flyer from PFLAG

Many people mistakenly think these protections already exist. In fact, ENDA has been on the table for 30 years. In fact, there are a few other things you may not realize about ENDA.

  • A few years after Stonewall, Reps. Bella Abzug (D-NY) and Ed Koch (D-NY) introduced the Equality Act of 1974, which sought to ban discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals, unmarried persons, and women in employment, housing, and public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, museums, libraries, and retail stores. The act marked the first-ever national piece of proposed legislation that would end discrimination against gays and lesbians in the United States. It did not, however, include transgender people. The bill did not pass.

 

  • While the Equality Act of 1974 was broad, ENDA is narrowly focused on a single issue: employment discrimination. Lawmakers first introduced ENDA in 1994. That version of the law would have made it illegal to discriminate against employees in all aspects of employment based on a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation (gender identity would not be added until 2007).

 

  • In 2007, the community was divided about whether an “inclusive ENDA” was necessary versus supporting a LGB only version and hoping to bring the T community along later. This has been soundly rejected by advocates and rightly so. Incrementalism is not the same thing as throwing some of our most vulnerable individuals under the bus. It is also self-defeating as persons who are LGB and “act or dress” in a gender non-conformative way can still be fired for that.

Acquaintances have told me that ENDA was separated from housing and public accomadation protections because President Clinton promised to get it through. That proved misleading, but the truth is that we need to continue educating our allies, our elected officials and our COMMUNITY about the need for this very important protection.

In Pennsylvania, 28 municipalities have local ordinances around workplace discrimination. Pennsylvania is comprised of 2,563 municipalities and 63 counties. More specifically, we have 56 cities, 958 boroughs, 1547 municipalities and one town. Here’s a better way to illustrate:

 

The areas with the blue pins are where we have protections.  The pins for Allegheny, Erie and Philadelphia are for the entire county, but I think this does justice in showing that a statewide ordinance is imperative as well as a federal ordinance – imagine what this map looks like in red states? TN actually bans municipalities from enacting these ordinances!

 

Share The Link: