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
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."
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
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.
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
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."
He added that
HRC's policies on ENDA have been more focused on the
best way to achieve legislative goals than on the
opinion of the community. HRC did not immediately
release the numbers because, at the time, members of
the community were still working on getting votes for gender
release those numbers or cite those numbers would have
undermined those efforts," said Solmonese.
But Matt Foreman,
executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task
Force, who supports only a trans-inclusive ENDA, dismissed
the poll, saying that the community's rights on
any front should not be dictated by polling.
"Fundamentally, rights are not about popular opinion,
and that's why we so vehemently reject voting
on the right to marry," he said. "We
shouldn't just hold up our finger and test popular
opinion at any one moment and say that's the
way we are going to go when we're talking about
fundamental human rights."
Conference on Civil Rights -- the umbrella organization of
civil rights groups that includes the Human Rights Campaign,
the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the
National Center for Transgender Equality -- also
announced Tuesday morning that it would support passing
the noninclusive version of the ENDA as an
"incremental" step forward.
In a letter sent
to Capitol Hill, the Leadership Conference noted
that reaching the decision had been "extraordinarily
difficult" for the organization. "As
civil rights organizations, however, we are no
strangers to painful compromise in the quest for equal
protection of the law for all Americans," read
the letter. "We have always recognized,
however, that each legislative breakthrough has paved the
way for additional progress in the future. With
respect to ENDA, we take the same view."
The letter was
signed by organizations including the Human Rights
Campaign and the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People. But Foreman said the letter did not
take into account the views of many of the Leadership
Conference's member organizations.
disappointed because the letter does not in fact reflect the
view of the membership of LCCR and, more important,
and does not reflect the vast majority of LGBT
organizations in LCCR and across the country," said
Foreman. Some 350 organizations have stated that they would
support nothing less than a fully inclusive version of
ENDA. (Kerry Eleveld, The Advocate)