Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ENDA hearing and blowback proves need for pro-gay legislation

Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee held a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would outlaw employment discrimination in the cases of sexual orientation and gender identity.

And the hearing featured a first:

Kylar Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, discussed his experiences coming out trans, including mistreatment by police, workplace harassment, and employment discrimination:

BROADUS: When I used female restrooms, police would accost me. I would have to strip and then they still told me, “Sir, get out of the bathroom,” when I would use the ladies’ room. It’s just humiliating and dehumanizing to say the least.[...]

Prior also to the physical transition, I was working in the financial industry, which is actually a high-paying industry. But again, when I shifted or transitioned, that’s when all the trouble began. And it’s still emotional to me, because it impacted me emotionally — I suffer from post-traumatic stress as a result of the harassment that I encountered in the workplace from my employer.[...]

To be unemployed is very devastating, also demeaning and demoralizing. And then the recovery time — there is no limit on it. I still have not financially recovered. I’m underemployed. When I do talks, I tell people I’m not employable. I was lucky to be where I am and I’m happy to be where I am, but I’m one of the fortunate people that is employed. There are many more people like me that are not employed as a result of just being who they are — being good workers, but being transgender or transsexual. So I think it’s extremely important that this bill be passed to protect workers like me.

The following is his testimony:

ThinkProgress also said that Congressional opponents of ENDA did not attend the hearing.

Of course that doesn't mean that they were silent. According to Right Wing Watch, Congressman Louis Gohmert (R-TX) appeared Today's Issues, a radio program hosted by the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. There, he not only distorted information about ENDA (Christian schools are in fact exempt from ENDA), but then took the time to talk about bodily plumbing:


Perkins: Today, in the Senate they are having a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act…. What this would do is give special employment benefits and protections based upon their sexual behavior and orientation. What do you see as the outcome of this? I mean, are you concerned increasingly that this is a way to essentially punish religious freedom in the business environment, in the business sector?

Gohmert: It continues to be part of this administration’s ongoing war on religion, on particularly Judeo-Christian values. But of course this is one that even is extremely contrary to the Muslim religion as well. I mean, Islam, Judaism, although there are plenty of people in Judaism and Christianity who think despite the plumbing that God created, that as the Iowa Supreme Court said, there is no biological evidence of a preference for a man and a woman being married as opposed to a man and a man.

 . . .  It also means that Christian schools will be forced to hire openly homosexual individuals, and it’s kind of tough to teach biblical principles in Romans 1 in a school if you are of the persuasion of being homosexual.

Call me biased but looking at the two arguments side-by-side, I think both Broadus and Gohmert makes a good argument for ENDA. Gohmert makes the argument why ENDA is necessary because of his ignorance. And Broadus seals the argument by demonstrating just how Gohmert's ignorance hurts the lgbtq comunity.

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