by John Grooms
June is Gay Pride Month, so let the politicians know where you stand. In recognition of the month's designation, President Obama is meeting this afternoon with members of various state organizations that work toward legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. Obama has also ordered the Labor Department to set up an expansion of gay workers rights by letting them take family and medical leave to care for sick or newborn children of same-sex partners.
Gay rights activists at today's meeting are expected to ask Obama to call on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would give protections against discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA would ban public and private employers, employment agencies and labor unions from using an applicants sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for hiring, firing, promotion or compensation.
Why is ENDA necessary? The introduction to the bill says it best by stating a simple truth: Qualified, hardworking Americans are denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise discriminated against just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. That is wrong and unjust, and its governments responsibility to ban it and enforce the ban, much as it does in cases of racial or gender-based discrimination. Passage of ENDA is particularly important for North Carolina, which is one of the 29 states that have no laws to protect LGBT citizens against workplace discrimination. By contrast, 87 percent of the Fortune 500 companies have policies specifically targeting discrimination for sexual orientation; 41 percent have policies that ban discrimination based on gender identity.
If you support the goals of the ENDA bill, contact Sen. Kay Hagan and urge her to sign on to the bill; reach her at http://hagan.senate.gov/contact/.