By Crosby Burns
Washington, D.C. — The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, recently reintroduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, is a significant measure toward protecting private and public employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, though it lacks the comprehensive scope of civil rights bills that have preceded it. While recognizing ENDA as a necessary step in reducing workplace discrimination against LGBT individuals, the Center for American Progress today released a column, “Gay and Transgender Discrimination Outside the Workplace,” analyzing the extent of discrimination in other areas such as housing, health care, and public accommodations, and highlighting policy changes that would help end these discriminatory practices.
Although a patchwork of state and local employment laws provide gay and transgender workers some protections, it remains legal to fire employees in 29 states because they are gay and 35 states because they are transgender. The same number of states lack laws that outlaw discrimination in housing, health care, and public accommodations.
Sexual orientation and gender identity-based discrimination in housing, health care, and public accommodations persists, but no federal laws exist to protect gay and transgender individuals against discrimination in the workplace and in these other areas. Gay and transgender Americans may be discriminated against when renting or buying housing, receiving health care, and accessing a host of public accommodations, including restaurants and hotels, because of antigay or antitransgender landlords, restaurant owners, and even healt hcare providers. Many gay and transgender people who are discriminated against in any of these instances have no legal recourse they can take.
States and municipalities should enact laws that provide full legal protections for gay and transgender Americans from all forms of discrimination. Where nondiscrimination statutes and ordinances do exist, state and local agencies should vigorously enforce them to the fullest extent of the law. Most importantly, Congress should pass federal laws that prohibit all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Specifically, this column recommends:
- Enacting strong federal, state, and local laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment housing, health care, and public accommodations
- Extending the Fair Housing Act’s scope to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in its list of protected categories
- State and local agencies strongly enforcing their nondiscrimination protections and investigating any and all complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity
- Health care facilities adopting policies that would help ensure equal access to quality health care for gay and transgender patients
- Areas of public accommodation ensuring their nondiscrimination policies include sexual orientation and gender identity
To speak with CAP experts, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.