Civil Rights Group Urges Congress To Protect Gays In Employment

As a long-time supporter of the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), People For the American Way called on Congress to take a stand for equality, fairness and equal opportunity for the nation’s gay workers and pass this important legislation. PFAW added its voice to a chorus of civil rights and labor groups and lawmakers who announced at a morning press conference the re-introduction of ENDA in Congress. An earlier version of ENDA came a vote short of passing the Senate in 1996.

"Congress should look at the recent polls showing the American people overwhelmingly in favor of this type of law and conclude that now is the time to protect gay and lesbian workers from job discrimination," said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas. "ENDA would give gays a place to turn when denied a job or fired unjustly," Neas said. "It will give them some place to turn for fair treatment."

ENDA, which would bar private and public employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation, is being re-introduced today in both Houses with bipartisan support.

"Gays and lesbians lend a variety of skills and talents to our workforce," Neas said. "The federal government should send a message that discrimination against any working person is wrong. All Americans deserve a just and fair work place. The polls show that Americans believe ENDA would help get us there, so should Congress."

Neas added that his organization’s Foundation has produced, since 1993, a yearly report called Hostile Climate that details incidents of anti-gay job discrimination and the Religious Right’s efforts to squelch laws protecting gays in employment. He said the Foundation’s Hostile Climate work added to the evidence that gays are a class of people who need and deserve protection against discrimination in the workplace.

The 1999 edition of Hostile Climate includes an essay from a Kentucky woman who was dismissed by her employer because of her sexual orientation. The Foundation is now working on a forthcoming volume of Hostile Climate for release early next year.

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