Call for personal stories to put face to policy
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights Campaign are working together to engage more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans in the national campaign to end workplace discrimination for LGBT workers. The campaign, which urges LGBT people who have faced job discrimination to share their stories, will be used to boost lobbying efforts for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a federal bill that would protect LGBT people against workplace discrimination, and for similar state proposals.
“People sharing their painful stories is essential in shattering the myth that discrimination against us is rare or a thing of the past,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Putting a human face on this injustice has made all the difference in passing nondiscrimination legislation at the state and local level and will be critical in putting ENDA over the top this year.”
The groups have set up an online survey, available at www.theTaskForce.org, www.aclu.org/lgbt and www.hrc.org, which encourages LGBT people who have experienced job discrimination to share their stories. They are looking for people from all walks of life who have held all kinds of jobs: from fast food and construction workers to teachers and brain surgeons. The groups acknowledge that proof of anti-LGBT bias will be important to persuading lawmakers but note that proof can come in many forms.
“With the new Congress, there is a very real opportunity to pass ENDA,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “But nothing is assured. That’s why we’re seeking LGBT people who will share their stories of workplace discrimination, to demonstrate to lawmakers the vital need for this legislation. Our most powerful tools are the voices of people who have been fired or denied a job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and we want to hear from everyone who has experienced this discrimination.”
“Employment discrimination strikes at the fundamental American value — the right of each qualified, hardworking individual to do his or her job and contribute to society without facing discrimination or being fired simply for who they are,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Workplace discrimination exists, yet many will not come forward for fear of retribution. We are calling on those victims to join us and help us pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”
With the recent change in makeup of both the House and Senate, the advocacy groups believe that there is now a real opportunity to pass ENDA. The bill would protect against workplace discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Several states will also be pushing for nondiscrimination laws this year. The Task Force, ACLU and HRC will also be sharing the stories collected with statewide LGBT lobbying groups pressing for state protections. Anyone who submits a story will be contacted first before any of the information is made public.
A link to the survey as well as additional information about ENDA is available at www.theTaskForce.org, www.aclu.org/lgbt, and www.hrc.org. To hear a podcast by Matt Coles, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, explaining why nondiscrimination laws are so critical, visit http://www.aclu.org/lgbt/discrim/28613res20070226.html.