- Senate to Vote on Gay Rights Bill by Thanksgiving, USA Today, Oct. 28, 2013
- Reid to Set Up ENDA Vote Before Thanksgiving, Washington Blade, October 28, 2013
- It’s Time for the Senate to Walk the Walk on ENDA (with Audio), Huffington Post, June 22, 2012
- 9 U.S. Senators to Harkin: Time to Move on ENDA, Washington Blade, June 19, 2012
- Freedom to Work Sends Letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid Demanding ENDA Vote, Miami Herald, June 12, 2012
- Man Tells Senators Transgender People ‘Lose Their Careers’, Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2012
- With Senate Hearing, Hope for Jumpstart on ENDA, Advocate, June 12, 2012
- Ohio Workplace Discrimination Victim Advocates Federal Protections, Out & About Newspaper, May 17, 2012
- EEOC Decision in Trans Woman’s Case “Will Almost Certainly Impact” Federal Contractor Rules, Scholars Say, Metro Weekly, May 4, 2012
- Transgender Breakthrough:
EEOC ruling that gender-identity discrimination is covered by Title VII is a ‘sea change’ that opens the doors to employment protection for transgender Americans, Metro Weekly, Apr. 23, 2012
- Tico Almeida: We Can’t Wait — How Obama Can Stop Discrimination Now, Huffington Post, Feb. 19, 2012
- The Next Champion of LGBT Workplace Rights?, Washington Blade, Feb. 15, 2012
- 100,000 Americans Demand Obama End Anti-Gay Discrimination Against Federal Contractors, Instinct Magazine, March 7, 2012
- Gay Philanthropist Endorses ENDA Executive Order, Washington Blade, March , 2012
- DynCorp adopts LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy, Washington Blade, Feb. 2, 2012
- DynCorp urged to adopt non-discrimination policy, Washington Blade, Jan. 18, 2012
- The NBA Inks Equality Protections While the Federal Government Lags Behind, Huffington Post, Dec. 13, 2011
- Lesbian Wins 100K Settlement in Lawsuit, Washington Blade, Dec. 7, 2011
- Barney Frank Retiring from Congress, Washington Blade, Nov. 28, 2011
- Major League Baseball Adopts Pro-Gay Non-Discrimination Policy, Washington Blade, November 23, 2011
- Doing More for LGBT Federal Contractors, Washington Post, Nov. 21, 2011
- USAID ‘Strongly Encourages’ Contractors to Prohibit LGBT Job Bias, Washington Blade, October 27, 2011
- New Group Joins Fight Against Workplace Discrimination, Washington Blade, October 26, 2011
“We think this vote is long overdue,” said Freedom to Work founder Tico Almeida, a former counsel in the U.S. House of Representatives who helped draft the legislation.
Almeida said he and other ENDA advocates have worked to build critical Republican support for the legislation, which included provisions to ensure protections for religious-based employers. That language helped garner the support of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who voted for the bill in committee.
Almeida is confident the legislation has enough support to pass a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate to break a potential filibuster. At least 55 senators have already endorsed the legislation, including GOP Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine.
“The question is: Can we push House leadership to actually hold a vote? If they held it, I think we would win,” said Almeida, who said lawmakers could seek other paths to a vote, including a discharge petition, which forces a vote on the floor if a majority demands it.
There are indicators that conservatives could also support the bill. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee and a trusted voice within the House ranks, voted for the House bill in 2007 and his potential support for the current legislation is a “glimmer of hope” for ENDA advocates, Almeida said.
Freedom to Work’s Almeida said his organization has been pursuing Latino voters in efforts to encourage senators in Florida, Arizona in Nevada, which have significant Latino populations, to support the legislation.
“Last week we launched phone-banking to thousands of registered Latino voters in Arizona and Nevada asking them to patch-through to Senators McCain, Flake and Heller to urge them to vote ‘yes,’” Almeida said. “We’re using bilingual call centers and the same parameters for Latino voter lists that national Latino organizations used earlier this year to flood the Senate with calls in favor of immigration reform.”
“The last time Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was asked when ENDA would get a vote in the Senate, he told us, ‘Soon.’ That was three years ago. It’s time for Senator Reid to get the full Senate on record as he’s done on other issues and take the next logical step toward making ENDA the law of the land.”
“The most opportune time for a Senate vote on ENDA is right away,” Almeida said. “We should not accept excuses for further delay on a Senate vote for legislation supported by super-majorities of the American people. … ENDA now has Republicans calling for a full Senate vote, and that is consistent with the White House’s position that right now the administration prefers a congressional vote on ENDA rather than an executive order that is waiting for the president’s signature.”
“After decades of delay on this critically important legislation, LGBT Americans need to know whether our elected officials stand with us. We deserve a vote.”
Senator Jeff Merkley, the chief sponsor of the legislation, told reporters in a conference call after the hearing:
“I think it’s long past time for the senate as a whole to debate and pass this bill,” he said. “What we lack at this point is a debate and vote on the floor of the Senate, and I think the time has come.”
Shari Hutchinson met with staff for Senator Sherrod Brown and thanked him for cosponsoring ENDA. She also met with staff for Senator Rob Portman and urged him to join with other Republican Senators who already support the proposal for GLBT workplace fairness:
“I traveled from Cleveland to our nation’s capital to let our senators know that anti-gay workplace discrimination hurts real people and our family members in places like Ohio,” said Hutchinson. “That’s why we need both a state law and a federal law to give GLBT Americans the freedom to work without harassment or discrimination on the job.”
“The only intellectually honest way to interpret the existing executive order’s ban on sex discrimination at federal contractors is for the Labor Department to issue public notice to the companies that profit from lucrative taxpayer-funded contracts to inform them that they cannot harass or fire talented employees just because they are transgender.”
“I am confident that Labor Secretary Solis and OFCCP Director [Patricia] Shiu will do the correct and legal thing by interpreting the existing order to protect transgender Americans.”
An employer who discriminates against an employee or applicant on the basis of the person’s gender identity is violating the prohibition on sex discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to an opinion issued on April 20 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The opinion, experts say, could dramatically alter the legal landscape for transgender workers across the nation.
“For the first time in American history, a presidential candidate may effectively use LGBT rights as a winning wedge issue against the conservatives and the discriminators.”
“Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work and one of the chief advocates calling for the order, called Shiu a ‘smart and talented attorney’ and said she’s ‘demonstrated throughout her career a real passion and commitment to enforcing civil rights laws.’”
“’The strong response to Freedom to Work’s online petition shows that Americans don’t want their taxpayer dollars squandered on workplace harassment and anti-LGBT discrimination,’ said Tico Almeida, founder and president of Freedom to Work. ‘Our government should never subsidize prejudice.’”
“David Bohnett has an impressive record of speaking up for positive change, and I think it is very significant that he has now publicly endorsed the proposed executive order banning federal contractors from squandering our taxpayer dollars on harassment against LGBT Americans,” Almeida said. “I imagine that as a successful entrepreneur, Mr. Bohnett knows well that banning LGBT workplace discrimination is both good for a company’s bottom line, as well as the morally right thing to do.”
“’If a big corporation like DynCorp can change, then President Obama can certainly create change by signing the ENDA executive order that his staff has already drafted for him,’ Almeida said. ‘The order is sitting on a desk in the White House right now just waiting to be signed, and it’s time for the president to put pen to paper.’”
“Most of the other military contractors like Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and General Dynamics have already adopted LGBT non-discrimination policies, and many of them have specifically said that non-discrimination rules increase efficiency and make them a stronger and more profitable company,” Almeida said.
“The U.S. Congress should follow the lead of the NBA by banning workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans,” says Tico Almeida. In the meantime, Freedom to Work calls on the president to take action by signing “an ENDA Executive Order granting LGBT Americans the freedom to work for federal contractors without fear of harassment or discrimination on the job.”
“In the aftermath of the lawsuit, Shari Hutchinson is joining Freedom to Work as a member of the organization’s ‘Speakers Bureau,’ a group of LGBT individuals affected by workplace discrimination who are working to bring visibility to their cases to encourage Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”
“Joe Racalto, who worked as a senior policy advisor for Frank and now serves as vice president for Freedom to Work, said: ‘Barney has served as a mentor and friend … It is because of his love for justice and civil rights that ENDA has a solid foundation not only in Congress, but overwhelming support among the American people.’”
“In a majority of states in our country, it is still perfectly legal to fire someone just for being gay, and 13 of the 30 Major League teams are located in those states that allow anti-gay firings,” Tico Almeida said. “No player should have to fear harassment or workplace retaliation if he were to publicly come out as gay.”
“Mr. Obama sould issue an executive order guaranteeing gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender Americans the freedom to work for federal contractors without fear of discrimination or harassment on the job,” wrote Tico Almeida. “It is now time to bring our government’s contractor policies into the current century by adding workplace protections to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“In order for LGBT workers to have the same workplace protections as all other Americans, President Obama needs to sign an ENDA executive order covering government contractors for all federal agencies,” Tico Almeida said. “Freedom to Work respectfully urges the President to do so during his first term.”
“A new group has formed to push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and its leaders hope to disband after achieving their primary legislative goal in just two years.”