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Equality California Urges Congress to Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

(CALIFORNIA) Equality California commended the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for convening hearings this week on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009 (ENDA), S. 1584, which would provide clear federal protection against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Too often we see lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals encounter discrimination in the workplace because federal laws fail to explicitly protect employment rights of all people in the United States," said Geoff Kors, Executive Director of Equality California. "We call on Congress and President Obama to act swiftly and immediately sign into law a fully inclusive ENDA so that all workers are equally protected under the law."

Current federal law provides basic legal protection against employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin or disability. It remains legal in 29 states to fire or refuse to hire someone simply because of his or her sexual orientation, and in 37 states it is legal to do so based solely on an individual’s gender identity or expression. A solid majority of people in this country support job protections for LGBT workers. Since 1994, ENDA has been repeatedly introduced in the House and Senate, but each Congress has failed to send it to the President.

Last September, the California Senate and Assembly passed resolutions calling on Congress to pass and President Obama to sign the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The resolutions, introduced by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) in the Senate (SR 27) and Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) in the Assembly (HR 20) and co-sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and the Transgender Law Center (TLC), put the California legislature on record in support of updating federal laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from discrimination in the workplace.

California is one of only 12 states that currently have the requisite protections in place to shield individuals from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in both the private and public sectors.