May 4, 2011
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senators and Representatives:
On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of members of People For the American Way, we write in strong support of the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (H.R. 1397 & S. 811). We urge you to cosponsor this important civil rights legislation, and we thank those who already have, especially Representative Frank and Senator Merkley.
In most states, it is currently legal for employers to engage in LGBT discrimination. It is still legal to fire or refuse to hire someone simply because of his or her sexual orientation in 29 states, and in 38 states employers can do so solely based on an individual’s gender identity. These road blocks stand in the way of Americans not protected under current law, many of whom have found themselves unable to financially support themselves and their families.
American principles of fairness and equal opportunity should be extended to all in the workplace. Passage of ENDA would be a major step in the right direction by ensuring that current protections prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability are extended to include protections prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Public support for ENDA has remained strong over the years. A May 2008 poll conducted by Gallup found that 89 percent of Americans believe gay men and lesbians should have equal rights in the workplace. Additionally, 433 (87 percent) Fortune 500 companies have included sexual orientation in their workplace policies and 229 (46 percent) also prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Corporate America is leading the way toward workplace fairness, and Congress needs to act to level the playing field for all.
ENDA is commonsense legislation that addresses injustice with a sensible solution. As we have noted, it would extend protections that some states and many large corporations already provide – without disruptive business consequences. We strongly support ENDA and urge your cosponsorship.
Michael B. Keegan
Executive Vice President for Policy and Program
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