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Religious Tolerance logo

Ending employment discrimination based
on sexual orientation and gender identity

Background: Federal Employment
Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (ENDA)

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Status of anti-discrimination/anti-bigotry bills:

According to the Associated Press:

"Job discrimination based on factors such as race, gender and religion are banned under federal law." 1

In essence, this ENDA bill promoted the belief that, by 2007, society regarded employment discrimination and bigotry based on sexual orientation and gender identity on a par with racism, sexism and religious intolerance.

Rep. Barney Frank, (D-MA), one of only two openly gay members of Congress, said he hoped the bill would send a message to "millions of Americans who are gay and lesbian that they are not bad people, that it is not legitimate to fire them simply because of who they are."

The Associated Press continues:

"Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have laws against sexual-orientation discrimination."

"Only nine states specifically protect transgender people from discrimination: New Jersey, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Mexico, California, Illinois, Maine, Hawaii, Washington. The District of Columbia has a similar law."

"By January, laws also will be in effect in Iowa, Vermont, Colorado and Oregon." 1

Introduction of the 2007 version of the ENDA bill:

The latest version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 (ENDA) was introduced as H.R. 2015 into the House on 2007-APR-24. Unlike previous versions, it would have originally protected against workplace discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation. Sponsors are Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Chris Shays (R-CT). Frank is a well-known gay man; Baldwin is openly lesbian. The bill's text is available online. 2

The bill would make it illegal to refuse to hire, to fire, or to promote an employee solely because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill would not apply to the military, or to employers of fewer than 15 employees. It does not require employers to provide domestic partner benefits.

The bill also contains exemptions for religious organizations. In the field of human rights, many religious organizations insisting on continuing their historic discrimination against women, homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, and others. Rather than require religious organizations to meet the higher secular standard, many governments exempt religious groups from human rights laws.

About sexual orientation:

H.R. 2015 defines "sexual orientation" as: "... homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality." 2

That is, whether a person is sexually attracted to persons of the same sex, opposite sex, or both sexes. In the case of bisexuality, individuals are not necessarily to men and women to the same degree.

It is of paramount importance to define sexual orientation clearly in this bill. Although gays, lesbians, bisexuals, human sexuality researchers, mental health professionals, medical practitioners, religious liberals and other generally define "sexual orientation" in these three terms, a few fundamentalist Christian groups have introduced a new and unique definition. To heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, they add such behaviors as bestiality (sex with animals), necrophilia (sex with dead persons), abusive pedophilia (sexually molesting young children), abusive hebephilia (sex with persons near puberty), etc. During 2007-APR, one religious conservative who discussed a hate-crime bill in the House stated that there are 30 sexual orientations that would be protected under that bill.

At the time of the introduction of H.R. 2015, people of all sexual orientations in 31 of the 50 states have no legal recourse if they are fired because of their sexual orientation. 3

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About gender identity:

At the time of introduction of this bill, transgender persons in 41 out of 50 states had no protection from being fired because of their gender identity or expression. 3

H.R. 2015 defines "gender identity" as:

"the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth."

Gender identity is the person's self-identification as a male, female, both or neither. In almost all adults, one's gender identity matches their physical /genetic sex. However, a very small percentage of adults are transgender. Their gender identity, as they perceive it to be, differs from their physical or genetic sex. Some transgender persons feel that they are a female trapped in a male body. Others feel the opposite. Still others define themselves as different in other ways. Some seek gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatments in order to change their body's appearance to the sex with which they identify.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force fought hard to have gender identity included in the bill. Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the Task Force stated:

"We vowed we would not support an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that left behind the transgender members of our community. We were willing to go to the mat on this, and the measure introduced today is the direct result of that perseverance and our profound belief that equality is not to be divvied out to a select few; it is a fundamental human right for all. Today marks a critical milestone for our community and our country. For decades, a majority of the American people have supported protecting our community from discrimination. Congress needs to act, at long last, this year." 4

There is a debate about the nature of gender identity. With the exception of a few fundamentalist Christian web sites, all of the transgender and mental health information sources that we have found imply that the only two effective approaches to help transgender individuals are:


Counseling to help them accept their feelings and to try to live with the immense internal conflict, or


Gender reassignment surgery to change their appearance to match their gender identity.

At least one conservative Christian source believes that a person's gender identity is "changeable." That is consistent with their belief that God is all-powerful and that prayer can accomplish anything. However, for gender identity as for the restoration of an amputated limb, prayer has apparently always failed.

References used in the above essay:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Andrew Miga, "House passes job bias ban against gays," Associated Press, 2007-NOV-07, at:
  2. "H.R. 2015: Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007," text, at:
  3. "State non-discrimination laws in the U.S.," Chart by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2007-APR, at: This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 
  4. "Task Force hails introduction of transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act in U.S. House of Representatives," National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2007-APR-24, at:

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Home > "Hot" conflicts > Homosexuality > Employment > here

Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-MAY-05
Latest update: 2009-AUG-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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