Sunday, April 8, 2007

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin on ENDA

November 7, 2007 Statement of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin
On House Passage of H.R. 3685, the Employment Non-
Discrimination Act of 2007

"Today, the House took an historic vote on the ENDA . . .a bill that
expands the law of the land to prohibit job discrimination against
people because of their sexual orientation. This is an historic moment
in the on-going movement for equality in this country. As in all
movements, achieving success is a process, and today’s legislative
accomplishment marks a milestone, but certainly not the end, of
our quest.

I offered an amendment to H.R. 3685 because I strongly believe
that we must prohibit job discrimination against people because
of their gender identity.

This is a complex issue. Few people are very familiar with it or
understand how a person’s body might not match one’s internal
sense of gender. But, there are Americans who confront this reality
and therefore seek to live as the other gender in order to feel whole.
This is not a new is not a fad. And it certainly is not
a reason to suffer discrimination in the workplace.

The importance of non-discrimination laws cannot be overstated.
Substantively, they provide legal remedies and a chance to seek justice.

Symbolically, they say that, in America, we judge our fellow
citizens by their integrity, character, and talents; not their
sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, age, or disability.

Some people have asked why I insisted on bringing an amendment
to the floor, only to withdraw it without a vote. The reason is simple.
Those left behind by this bill deserve to hear, on the floor of the
House, that they are not forgotten and our job will not be finished
until they, too, share fully in the American Dream.

Those who would practice employment discrimination, who permit
bullying or ostracism on the job, who hire or fire based on
stereotyped notions of what is masculine and what is feminine,
rather than on a person’s skills and ability, need to hear, from the
floor of the House, that such practices are not acceptable in
our society.

Irrational hate or fear have no place in our society. If we truly
believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, if we truly
want to protect the most vulnerable in our society, if we continue
to profess that all men are created equal, then we must work toward
achieving the American Dream for all…not just for some.

So, I join with my colleagues in celebrating House passage of a
bill that bans employment discrimination based on sexual
orientation. This is important and necessary legislation. And I
remain committed, as we all are, to passing legislation that bans
workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity."

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