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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

ENDA Talking Points

What is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)?

This legislation would address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to
fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees simply based on a person’s sexual
orientation or gender identity. It would reinforce the principle that employment decisions
should be based upon a person’s qualifications and job performance.

Why the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)?

  • Across the board, the majority of Americans believe employment decisions
    should be based on a person’s qualifications and work ethic. And it goes
    inherently against our American values to fire someone based solely upon who
    they are.
  • Almost 90% of Americans believe that gays and lesbians should have equal rights
    in job opportunities. And that is why a majority of Americans believe the federal
    government should act to end workplace discrimination against gay, lesbian,
    bisexual and transgender workers.
  • As long as it does not interfere with their work, employees should be able to love
    whomever they chose without having to fear losing their job. The bottom line
    should be focused on an employee’s work ethic and qualifications – not on their
    private lives.
  • This legislation does not prevent employers from firing lazy and incompetent
    employees. It simply gives all Americans a fair shake at working hard to get
    ahead without discrimination or bias.

Where do America’s business leaders stand on the issue of workplace discrimination?

  • Most of America’s smartest business minds understand that a person’s sexual
    orientation has nothing to do with their job performance. That is why a majority
    of America’s largest employers have already implemented this policy.
    Unfortunately, Congressional action is needed because there are still too many
    jobs where Americans can be fired simply for being who they are.
  • Federal law is lagging seriously behind the real-world policies that corporate
    America are already has in place:
    • As of March 2007, nearly 90 percent (433) of the Fortune 500
      corporations included "sexual orientation" in their non-discrimination
      policies, compared to just 6 in 1990.
    • As of March 2007, a quarter (124) of the Fortune 500 corporations
      included "gender identity" in their non-discrimination policies, compared
      to just 3 in 2000.
    • As of January 2007, a majority (265) of the Fortune 500 corporations
      offered health benefits to employees' domestic partners, more than twice
      as many as in 2000.
  • Not only is federal law lagging behind corporate America but it is also being
    outpaced by what many local leaders are already implementing in their
    communities.
    • By 2006, at least 276 cities and towns, and 17 states, across the country
      had added workplace protections that protected against discrimination
      based on sexual orientation in both public and private sector jobs.

Corporate America’s Record of Support for ENDA

  • 2000 – 23 U.S. corporations support passage of federal workplace
    antidiscrimination law including: AT&T, Eastman Kodak, General Mills,
    Honeywell, Merrill Lynch and Microsoft
  • 2002 -- 4 U.S. corporations testify in support of anti-discrimination law before a
    U.S. Senate committee: Eastman Kodak, FleetBoston, Hewlett-Packard and Shell
    Oil
  • 2004 -- 49 U.S. corporations and 55 small businesses support passage of federal
    workplace anti-discrimination law including: BP, JP Morgan Chase, IBM, Levi
    Strauss, Nationwide, Nike and Yahoo!

Rebuttals

  • Religious organizations, opposed to homosexuality, will have to compromise
    their beliefs and hire gay people.

    REBUTTAL: ENDA contains explicit language permitting religious employers to
    require that their employees adhere to the tenets of their religion. The language
    recognizes that the U.S. Constitution protects certain employment decisions of religious
    organizations and that some religious organizations may have a specific and significant
    religious reason to make employment decisions, even those that take an individual’s
    sexual orientation or gender identity into account.
  • This legislation would create thousands more lawsuits and hurt small
    businesses across the country.

    REBUTTAL: Experience with state laws has shown this not to be true. According to a
    2002 study of states with non discrimination laws by the Government Accountability
    Office (GAO), there simply has not been a notable increase in litigation. Also, ENDA
    does not apply to businesses with fewer than 15 employees.
  • Why should we give gay employees “special” protections not available to
    others?

    REBUTTAL: The right to work is not a “special” right, and that is why we already have
    civil rights laws protecting against many forms of discrimination including race, religion,
    gender, disability, and national origin. ENDA doesn’t give “special” rights, but puts
    GLBT Americans on the same footing as everyone else. 

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