Thursday, October 4, 2007

A 'conversation' with Representative Adam Smith regarding inclusion of gender identity in ENDA

Yesterday I sent this email:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: ENDA must include gender identity!
Date: 03 Oct 2007 20:45:36 -0000
From: gabi@gabiclayton.com

Representative Adam Smith
U.S. House of Representatives
2402 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0001

Dear Representative Smith,

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act must include BOTH gender identity and sexual orientation.

Taking gender identity language out of the bill would leave millions of Americans vulnerable to losing their jobs. Removing gender identity from the bill would suggest that discrimination is fine and it is okay to compromise on basic civil rights.

As Carolyn Wagner quoted me in "About PFLAG's Trans-Inclusive Legislative Policy" on the PFLAG website at
http://www.pflag.org/TNET_PFLAG_Policy_History.715.0.html
Suppose you live in a community where there is a community bomb shelter. As the bomb sirens begin to roar and the citizens file into the shelter, the community leaders begin to bar admission to a few. They tell those that they refuse admission to "Maybe next time. And if you survive you can work with us to be sure the larger community will allow you shelter the next time we are under attack."
It is a basic right to be judged in the workplace by our qualifications and our job performance - not by the color of our skin, our religion, the country of our birth, our sexual orientation, OR our gender identity.

Compromise on basic civil rights is not acceptable.


Sincerely,
Gabrielle Clayton

cc:
Representative Barney Frank
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Maria Cantwell
Speaker Nancy Pelosi

***********************************

This morning I received this reply:
Subject: Re: WriteRep Responses
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2007 10:31:13 -0400
From: Representative Adam Smith

Dear Gabrielle,

Thank you for contacting me with your support for H.R. 2015, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of 2007. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns with me on this important matter.

Like you, I believe that it is wrong that someone can be fired or denied a job opportunity because they are, or are perceived to be, gay, lesbian, or bisexual. As a result of your letter and others like it, you will be pleased to know that I have agreed to co-sponsor H.R. 2015 again this Congress. As you know, H.R. 2015 was introduced by Representative Barney Frank on April 24, 2007. This bill would prohibit employers, employment agencies, and labor unions from using an individual's sexual orientation as the basis for employment decisions such as hiring, firing, promotion, or compensation.

ENDA simply extends basic employment discrimination law to include sexual orientation, thereby providing legal recourse in our state or federal courts. The bill prohibits preferential treatment and quotas, exempts small businesses, religious institutions, and the military and does not require employers to provide benefits to the domestic partner of employees.

This bill is a common-sense solution to this problem. Unfortunately, it remains legal in 33 states to fire or refuse to hire anyone based on sexual orientation. This legislation does not create special rights; ENDA would simply add sexual orientation and gender identity to the current list of federal employment protections that already ban discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age and disability.

Currently, H.R. 2015 has the support of 165 Members, but must be reviewed in the House Education and Labor, House Administration, House Oversight and Government Reform, and House Judiciary Committees before reaching the House floor. Please be assured that I will support this legislation should I have the opportunity to vote on this bill.

Again, I want to thank you for contacting me on this important matter. If you have any additional questions, comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

If you'd like to receive occasional e-mail updates from Congressman Adam Smith, please visit my website to sign up - http://www.house.gov/adamsmith/IMA/newsletter.shtml.
***********************************

So ... I called his DC office (202) 225-8901 this morning and spoke to an assistant (Paul Hoover). I explained that I had emailed yesterday, received a reply this morning, and that I was disappointed and upset that the reply did not address why I wrote.

I explained that I wrote because I want ENDA to include both sexual orientation AND gender identity and that it is important to me that transgender people not be left out of this protection.

I told him who I am - a straight woman, not transgender, mother of Bill who was a hate crime victim 12 years ago - I didn't mention FUAH, PFLAG or any other organization. I said I have a lot of glb AND trans friends.

I said I know they are busy and send form letters, but this one missed my whole reason for writing yesterday.

Mr. Hoover was friendly, interested and receptive. He seemed to be taking notes and made sure he had all my contact information.

There you have it.

1 comment:

SteveSchalchlin said...

Hm. Interesting that they sent you a form letter. I'm glad you wrote them about this issue.