ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, is in the legislative process in both the US House and the US Senate, with the House being further along.
This act extends the existing federal law prohibiting employment discrimination to protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Right now you can be fired legally from your job in 29 states for just being gay, lesbian or bisexual; you can be fired legally from your job for being transgender in 38 states.
This bill will grant to LGBT people protection from being fired or discriminated against in their employment simply for being who they are. These are not new rights; it is everyone's right to be treated fairly and equally in employment, and to be given the opportunity to provide meaningful work to their employer, free from ignorant and irrelevant harassment and discrimination.
This is a social justice issue that Lutherans should rally around.
President Obama has said that he will sign this legislation when it reaches his desk. The previous Bush-Chaney administration said unequivocally that the then-president would veto any such legislation if it had passed.
The House is very likely to go to a vote on their version of the bill before Thanksgiving. Representatives Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc) and Jared Polis (D-Colo) and the 118 other original co-sponsors are moving the action along as vigorously as possible. Now is the time to contact your US Representative to tell them of your support for the bill. Mention that you are a person of faith, a Lutheran, and feel strongly about this. The House bill is HR 3017, but everyone knows it as ENDA.
In the Senate, the process started in August (the House started in June) and so will most likely not go to a vote until early in 2010. The Senate bill was introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and the late Edward Kennedy (D-Mass). Senator Merkley has taken up the lead on this bill following the death of Senator Kennedy. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) is having a full committee hearing on the bill this Thursday, Nov 5th. The Senate bill is S 1584.
You can contact your two senators and representative by email or phone.
The easiest way to contact them by email is to go the United ENDA website, www.unitedenda.org, and click on Take Action. There you will find a link to the ability to quickly and easily send an email directly to your congressional delegation. When you get to the page with the email on it, just fill in the information on the right; edit the letter you see on the screen as you see fit. Mention you are a person of faith, a Lutheran.
You will also find instructions there (Take Action tab, click on the link to send email) about contacting your representative and senators by phone, which you can do to either their Washington office or their regional office. The instructions there are about contacting the DC offices. The regional office phone numbers you can find in your local phone directory.
Do this. It is important. We are instructed to care for each other. This is very much part of that.
I will send a sample flyer in an email right behind this one, in case you want to print some of this information for your friends, colleagues, or others at meetings you are going to attend. You could provide them to those at church you believe would be supportive and ask them to help.
And, you could then do as we are doing: keep in your prayers those who are working so hard to pass this important, landmark legislation, and those who so very much need the protections it will grant.