California Assemblyman Lara Calls for LGBT Workplace Rights Now
July 5, 2012 9:59 am
In a week of fireworks, barbeques, and July 4th indolence it can be easy to lose track of ongoing battles for civil rights. The fact remains that there are not federal protections against discrimination of LGBTQ employees in the private sector. Every session of Congress since 1994 has seen the introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would provide basic protections from workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identify — yet that bill has failed to materialize in the form of law. With this in mind, California Assemblyman Ricardo Lara introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 43 Monday, an expansive workplace Bill of Rights for LGBTQ individuals that calls on President Obama and Congress to include sexual orientation and gender identity in landmark Federal anti-discrimination laws.
Assemblyman Lara, who is running in November’s election to become the first openly gay person of color on the California State Senate, stated: “”This resolution is an urgent call for justice. While California offers some of the most expansive protections for LGBTQ individuals, without a comprehensive response by the federal government, many LGBTQ Americans continue to be at the mercy of state and local laws that can either protect them or target them for discrimination.” In 29 states, it is still legal for private employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; in 34 states private employers can discriminate on the basis of gender identity. The resolution itemizes basic federal protections that do not apply to LGBTQ persons, including the Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A 2007 study provided conclusive evidence that gay men earn less than their straight counterparts, and this more subtle discrimination says nothing about more blatant biases present (and legally exercised) in hiring and firing processes. Last year’s joint report of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, Inequality at Every Turn, documented significant rates of workplace discrimination faced by transgedered persons. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was reintroduced before the 112th Assembly of Congress by Rep. Barney Frank (D – Mass.) in 2011, and the bill has 111 co-sponsors (including 3 Republicans), which is about half what it had at the end of the 111th session. That bill continues to idle in Committee, despite urges for a Senate hearing.
We applaud Assemblyman Lara’s broadening of the language urging for workplace equality and call for California’s lawmakers to push the President and Congress to extend the workplace freedoms many of us take for granted.
Image from here