Can you be fired just because you are gay?

I recently had a discussion with a friend who refused to believe that I could be fired from my job in some states because I am a lesbian. He insisted that could not be legal. “If that were true it would be so archaic and unfair.” He was sure I misunderstood something until I showed him the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA), a bill introduced by members of Congress at the federal level.

Sadly, my friend isn’t the only one confused by employment discrimination. Most people, straight and LGBT, are often shocked when I tell them that in 30 states it is legal to fire someone simply because he or she is lesbian, gay, or bisexual and in 37 states it is legal to discriminate against transgender people!!! Check it out for yourself at http://www.hrc.org/documents/Employment_Laws_and_Policies.pdf
where Human Rights Campaign has a great map showing which states discriminate on sexual orientation and gender identity which do not.

This past week the bill was reintroduced with bipartisan support lead by sponsor Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), IIeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Michael Castle (R-DE), George Miller (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Conyers (D-MI), Todd Platts (R-PA), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), and Leonard Lance (R-NJ). This version of ENDA would create federal protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation AND gender identity and would therefore outlaw discrimination against ­all members of the LGBT community.

Nearly everyone has heard about our fight for equal rights when it comes to marriage, but my experience is most people are clueless when it comes to employment discrimination. Furthermore, when they heard about it they can’t believe it (I suspect some think I am making it up!) It is important that as individuals and as a community, we make our family, friends, and elected officials aware of this blatant discrimination against LGBT people and do what we can to get it changed.
The Upper Delaware GLBT Center proudly supports this version of ENDA and applauds those who reintroduced this bill. Let’s help them as they fight for the rights for LGBT individuals. Ask your elected officials to support ENDA by contacting them directly through Garden State Equality’s website at http://eqfed.org/campaign/ENDA09HouseIntro (they even have a sample letter so it only takes about 10 seconds.) Finally, join us on October 11 as we march on Washington and let our voices be heard.


Anonymous said...

I'm not suprised that your friends are unclear. I run into that all the time as well. I remember working with Equality Illinois for years to get LGBT language added to that state's ENDA in the state constitution. It was only won in 2006 and enacted in 2007. With a lot of help from state legislators like then State Senator Barack Obama.
Equality Illinois would organize buses from Chicago and other large communities to travel down to the state capitol ever April on their "Lobby Day." I went every year for six years...including that final year.

UDGLBT said...

WOW! We need more people like you! That kind of effort really makes a difference. It is for that reason we (the Upper Delaware GLBT Center) will be getting a bus for the October 11 march on Washington. I'll post more information about that as we get nearer to the date. Hope you can join us!!!