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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Employment Non-Discrimination Act May Appear Next Week

According to the Washington Blade, U.S. Representative Barney Frank will announce plans for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) next week. It will include protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

The bill has eight House co-sponsors, including four Democrats and four Republicans. Among the sponsors are gay House members Frank, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). The lead Republican sponsor is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.). More are expected later.

The interview also discloses Frank's view that prospects for passing a trans-inclusive ENDA have improved significantly since 2007.

"Things have gotten better," Frank said Tuesday. "The transgender community is lobbying hard."

He also said a House hearing last year on discrimination encountered by transgender people helped build support for a non-discrimination bill with a gender identity provision.

"We know we have a healthy majority in the House for ENDA without transgender [protections]," he said. "So we are able now to focus our efforts on lobbying for transgender [protections]. We don't have to do the dual lobbying because we had that [previous] vote [on a gay-only version of the bill]." This may be an attempt to justify his decision to strip gender identity provisions from the bill, resulting in a vote in favor of a sexual-orientation only bill.

There are some concerns within the LGBT community about the exact language of the bill, and how it will address issues such as a religious exemption, small businesses and gender identity definitions.

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