The US House of Representatives held a hearing yesterday on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009 (enda). The Act will ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill exempts small businesses with fewer than 15 employees, the military and religious groups.
Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), who is sponsoring the legislation, and Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) both spoke at the hearing. Frank and Baldwin are the two of the three openly gay or lesbian members of Congress. In her testimony, Congresswoman Baldwin stated “Studies of LGBT employees reveal significant levels of discrimination or harassment occurring in workplaces across the country. For example, according to a 2007 report published by the ACLU, nearly 30% of LGBT workers reported that they have experienced discrimination or unfair treatment in the work place and one in four said they experience it on a weekly basis…ENDA does not create ‘special rights.’ It simply affords to all Americans basic employment protection from discrimination based on irrational prejudice.”
ENDA defines sexual orientation as “homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality” and gender identity as “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”