following the historic Senate vote to add sexual orientation
and gender identity to the federal hate-crimes law,
controversy erupted over the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act now under consideration in the
House of Representatives.
House leadership is considering stripping
protections for transgender people from ENDA after a
preliminary vote count found the measure would not
pass if it had trans-inclusive language.
of the matter is, we've been canvassing this -- the
votes just are not there for a trans-inclusive
bill," said Steven Adamske, spokesman for Rep.
Barney Frank, sponsor of the original bill. Reps. Frank and
Tammy Baldwin, the only openly gay members of Congress,
called for the count after they learned House speaker
Nancy Pelosi feared the measure lacked enough support
Adamske said that
putting a trans-inclusive bill on the floor for a vote
could result in a bruising debate that would make it very
difficult to revisit the bill. "The one thing
we don't want to do is embolden the
enemy," he said of Republicans who might be looking
to exploit the vote as a wedge issue.
boss's recommendation is to go forward with an
historic ENDA bill and then, in the very near future,
work on improving that bill, as has been done with
every single civil rights bill that has been passed in the
last 40 years," said Adamske, noting that the
original Civil Rights Act of 1964 failed to
include protections for both voting (added in
'65) and housing (added in '68).
spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, confirmed that
House leaders were likely to consider a bill without
we are getting from the Hill is that the leadership
will possibly move forward with a new version of ENDA that
does not offer explicit protections for gender
identity," Luna said. "HRC is deeply
disappointed and did not assent to this position."
HRC has been a
lead organization in advocating for a trans-inclusive
bill, targeting moderate members of Congress for support.
The National Center for Transgender Equality, a group
that has also been working the halls of Congress to
pass ENDA, could not be reached for comment.
afternoon, national LGBT rights organizations including the
Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task
Force, and the National Center for Transgender
Equality met to discuss the situation.
Earlier in the
day, shortly after reports of the change originally
surfaced on the Washington Blade's Web site,
LGBT advocacy groups fired off statements of disapproval.
reports from the last 24 hours are accurate, it is
unconscionable that congressional leaders would rush to a
decision to strip protections for transgender people
at the same time as states across the nation are
adding these protections at an unprecedented pace,"
said Matthew Foreman, executive director of the National Gay
and Lesbian Task Force.
Foreman called it
"incredibly ironic" that the House is
considering such a move on the same day that the
Senate voted 60-39 to allow a voice vote on a
trans-inclusive hate-crimes bill. The House has passed a
hate-crimes bill twice that included gender identity.
Stonewall Democrats put out a statement echoing
Foreman's sentiments, adding, "We would
oppose any bill that did not protect transgender
people." Eleven other organizations signed on to the
statement: Empire State Pride Agenda; Equality Texas; Garden
State Equality; the Mautner Project; National Center
for Lesbian Rights; National Center for Transgender
Equality; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force;
National Stonewall Democrats
National Coalition for
LGBT Health; National Coalition of Anti-Violence
Projects; Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians
and Gays; and the AFL-CIO's Pride at Work. (Kerry
Eleveld, The Advocate)