Activists welcome moves to restore trans rights to ENDA

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The only openly lesbian Congresswoman has said that trans protections will be re-introduced to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act currently before the US Congress.

Representative Tammy Baldwin announced today that she has secured an agreement from the Democratic leadership to introduce an amendment on the floor of the House of Representatives next week, after the bill protecting gay, lesbian and bisexual people at work moves through the House Education and Labour Committee tomorrow.

The decision to remove trans protections from ENDA split the gay community, with the largest LGBT rights group, Human Rights Campaign, under fire for abandoning an “all or nothing” strategy.

The trans protections were removed from the bill when it appeared that they would not receive as much support as LGB protections and would cause ENDA to fail to pass in the House.

A coalition of more than 300 rights groups under the banner of United ENDA opposed the move. They released the following statement.

“Two weeks ago, our community was told that gender identity would not be included in any version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Congressional Leadership expected our community to acquiesce.

“However, United ENDA effectively communicated the strong opposition of hundreds of organisations and millions of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to leadership’s efforts to advance a stripped down version of the bill.

“It is because of our unprecedented efforts that new options, such as the proposed amendment by Congresswoman Baldwin, are able to come before Congress.

“Members of Congress responded to the successful strategy of our coalition and many expressed their strong desire to vote for an inclusive bill that protects all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“If we are faced with a non-inclusive bill following the committee vote, we will work with Congresswoman Baldwin to repair ENDA to include protections on the basis of gender identity.”

Even if it passes the House, ENDA in either form is unlikely to gain Senate approval or be signed into law by President Bush.