Last week, Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts said that ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation and, maybe, gender identity, will be reintroduced this month.
As we all remember all too well, in the last introduction of that bill in 2007, “gender identity” was originally included, but was later removed into a separate bill because it appeared to some in Congress that there was insufficient support for its inclusion. A lot of our community was outraged, but it also incited a lot of division. Some gay people wondered why this transgender issue should be important to them.
Word: Workplace fairness isn't an issue that's different for transgender folks. It's not an issue for gay people. It's an issue for everybody, straight or gay or transgender or whatever your identity may be.
Not content to sit around on our thumbs, we started a Facebook group called “Inclusive ENDA” last Friday. It's a campaign to educate Members of Congress about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The co-chairs include Pam Spalding of Pam's House Blend, Bil Browning of Bilerico.com and Waymon Hudson of Bilerico Florida. As I write this, the membership in the group just passed 500. I think 5000 before the end of the month is not too much to expect.
Here's why you should join, and invite all of your friends to join and take action.
Representative Frank has consistently said that the key to making this happen is education of the Members of Congress. He has railed against the community's failure to educate Congress members from conservative states, citing this as the reason that the 2007 effort to pass an inclusive ENDA was aborted. In his interview, he said “Efforts to include transgender people have failed in New York, Massachusetts and Maryland,” he said. “It doesn’t get easier when you throw in South Carolina and Utah.”
Whether you find this infuriating or informative, this is the challenge of the Facebook Inclusive ENDA campaign. It will focus particularly on those Members of Congress who need more information on why an inclusive ENDA is important. The vision of the group is to spread the message of inclusion to all of Congress, particularly those most in need of hearing this message, and to educate them about why sexual orientation and gender identity protection is important for all people — straight or gay or transgender.
Here is what we are asking you to do:
Please contact your US Representative today by calling the U.S. Capitol at 202-224-3121. Give the operator your zip code and ask for your Representative. Ask your Rep's office whether he or she has a position on an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and explain that means both sexual orientation and gender identity. Ask whether the position is definitely yes, probably yes, undecided, probably no or definitely no. Anything other than yes or no should go in the “undecided” category. Then, post it on the Wall at Inclusive ENDA (click here for the link), where it will be transferred to spreadsheets showing the position of all U.S. Representatives and Senators.
Do the same for your Senators.
Our next steps after this will be to contact those in the undecided columns and help to educate them about the importance of an inclusive ENDA.
Can we make an inclusive ENDA happen?
I don't know.
But I'm not sitting around waiting for someone to save me.
Join me, join Pam and sign up for our campaign now. Here's the link.
Together, we are strong.