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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Why You Should Care About LGBT Rights

There is currently no federal law protecting individuals from job discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. This means that at any time, someone can be discriminated against, fired or not hired simply because he/she is or is perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, and color.

Impact

While the primary purpose of the Civil Rights Act was to prohibit discrimination based on immutable qualities, it was not comprehensive. ENDA works within the boundaries of the Civil Rights Act to protect a group of people who have been historically and are currently discriminated against. Currently, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals are susceptible to discrimination in the workplace. This discrimination can surface through hostility, unequal treatment, and too commonly, violence. Here are some recent examples:

A Georgia woman was fired from her job as an award-winning cook when her company adopted a written policy against employing gay people.

A married, heterosexual Kansas man was refused a teaching job because a school employee suggested that he might be gay.

ENDA would:

  • Extend federal employment discrimination protections fair employment practices to gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and heterosexuals on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • Prohibit public and private employers from using sexual orientation as the basis for employment decisions and provide many of the same procedures and remedies as discussed in the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
  • Apply to Congressional and Presidential employees.

ENDA would NOT:

  • Apply to small businesses with fewer than 15 employees.
  • Apply to religious organizations.
  • Apply to uniformed members of any of the armed forces
  • Allow for quotas or preferential treatment based on sexual orientation.

Background 

Today there is a huge gap in employment protection under the civil rights laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, and gender. 

Movements to expand these protections have resulted in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 .

However, protection from discrimination in employment, housing, and almost any other aspect of daily life are not assured to the gay community. Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia offer protection based on sexual orientation. ENDA would ensure this type of protection across the entire country to all citizens of the United States.

ENDA was first introduced in the 103rd Congress on June 23, 1994. Six days later on July 29, the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee held the first congressional hearing ever to consider civil rights protections against sexual orientation. It has been reintroduced to the 104th, 105th and 106th Congresses and has been gaining bipartisan support every time.

Our Members