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House bill to protect gay workers advances without transgender protections

[JURIST] An employment non-discrimination bill protecting gays, lesbians, and bisexuals but not transgendered individuals has been sent to the full US House of Representatives for consideration after being approved [press release] by the House Education and Labor Committee Thursday. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act [PDF text; HR 3685 materials] covers hiring and firing practices, the setting of compensation levels, and promotion determinations, and makes it illegal for employers to consider an employee's sexual orientation when making decisions in the workplace.

The absence of transgender protections has prompted sharp opposition [ACLU press release] to the measure from civil rights groups. Democrats who introduced the bill in September were worried that the inclusion of language applying to transgender employees would cause the bill to fail and have vowed to address the issue in the future. California Representative Linda Sanchez [official profile] was one of four Democrats to vote against the bill in committee, saying that, "We could have done better." Currently less than half of US states specifically prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation [JURIST news archive], and only half of these laws include protection for transgender individuals. AP has more.

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