Congress may split workplace protection bill

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Efforts by American lawmakers to protect LGBT people from employment discrimination are under threat from Congressmen not convinced of the need for gender identity protection.

In a compromise, it has been proposed that two bills be introduced – one extending civil rights based on sexual orientation and another for gender identity.

The upshot of this would be the defeat of the trans protections that are not supported by some Democratic lawmakers but the likely success of workplace protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans.

The two bill proposal from Congressman Barney Frank would rescue the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) from defeat in the House of Representatives.

An editorial in the Washington Post praised him for seeking a compromise:

“Mr. Frank, one of two openly gay members of Congress, deserves credit for devising the plan that might well save the basic bill.

“It requires time and patience to educate the public and lawmakers about how prejudice harms some people.

“That’s what gays and lesbians have been doing in their quest for equality for nearly 40 years. And that’s what transgender people will have to do.

“Delaying passage of ENDA, which was first introduced in the House in the mid-1970s by Representative Bella Abzug (Democrat, New York) until the transgender community changes enough hearts and minds would be a mistake.”

However LGBT rights advocates are angry that protections for trans people could be sacrificed.

A coalition of nine US advocacy groups issued a joint statement on the issue.

“Our collective position remains clear and consistent regarding the status of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“Our organisations oppose the removal of protections for transgender people from ENDA. We would also oppose any bill that did not protect transgender people.”

The largest and most prominent American gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign, is under fire for not adding its voice to the criticism of the proposal to drop trans protections.

Federal employment discrimination protections are currently provided on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability.