ENDA is Next; ENDA is Now

Yesterday was a truly historic day for the lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender (LGBT) community and our allies. President Obama
signed into law the first federal protections in U.S. history for
LGBT people. The new LGBT
hate crimes law
carries the powerful message that
hate-motivated violence against LGBT people has no place in the
United States of America. Similar to the experience of living in a
state with LGBT nondiscrimination protections or marriage equality,
the presence of this new law makes me feel different about how my
country – or at least my government – feels about me. I hope it
will save lives and change hearts and minds.

But even with yesterday’s historic victory, there is still much
change needed to achieve full equality for LGBT people. And in the
spirit of pushing forward toward full equality, yesterday, while
President Obama was a hosting a reception in Washington, DC
commemorating the new hate crimes law, the Tallahassee, Florida
City Council voted unanimously to extend spousal rights to domestic
partners and their children and to pass a transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination

Equality Council
was proud to offer legislative drafting and
technical assistance to our state partner, Equality Florida, to
help facilitate that victory. It is these kinds of victories in the
cities and states across America that paved the way for
yesterday’s federal hate crimes celebration and that have created
the echo chamber for fully inclusive nondiscrimination protections
and family equality at the federal level. If Tallahassee, Florida
can pass nondiscrimination and family protections, so too can our
U.S. Congress.

Next Thursday, November 5, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor
and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing on the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA would prohibit employment
discrimination against LGBT people. LGBT people want to be safe in
our communities. We also want to be able to work and support
ourselves and our families.

Family Equality Council has submitted written testimony about the devastating
consequences that employment discrimination has not only for
individual LGBT workers, but for the families, partners and
children who depend upon them. Now Congress must hear from LGBT
families and their allies directly. Even if you’ve already done
so multiple times, NOW is the time again to call your Senators and Representative and reiterate
that passing a fully inclusive ENDA this year is a priority for
LGBT families. ENDA is next; ENDA is now.

For justice and equality,

Kara Suffredini
Director of Public Policy and Community Engagement