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Senate committee holds hearing on sexual orientation discrimination bill

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) [official website] held a hearing [materials] Tuesday on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) [S 811 materials], focusing on discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees across the country. Among the panel of witnesses attending the hearing was Kylar Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition [advocacy website], who spoke of his experiences of being transgender [press release]. Currently there are no federal employment protections for LGBT people.

ENDA is federal legislation geared towards banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It has been introduced in nearly every session of Congress since 1994, but has yet to pass. A version was introduced [JURIST report] in the US Senate [official website] in August 2009 by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) [official website]. If passed, the bill would protect employees from discriminatory hiring and firing practices, and from segregation or classification on the basis of sexual preference or gender identity. The bill would be the first aimed at ensuring workplace equality for individuals who identify as LGBT.

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