Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Congressional "Examination of Discrimination Against Trangender Americans in the Workplace" Hearings

I watched the congressional hearing on the gender inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and I was impressed with the witnesses for the majority party. The committee meeting was opened with statements from Reps. Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin, I thought Rep. Baldwin statement was excellent and to the point. I thought Rep. Frank also gave a good statement, but it was a little rambling.

I thought that they choose good representatives for the trans-community. The people testifying were: Shannon Price Minter, Legal Director for National Center for Lesbian Rights; Diane Schroer, Retired Colonel US Army she was hired by the Library of Congress and was immediately fired when she to them she was transitioning; Diego Sanchez, Director of Public Relations and External Affairs for AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts; Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti, Former Space Shuttle Engineer and Bill Hendrix, Chair of Gays, Lesbians, and Allies at Dow (GLAD) for Dow Chemical Company. Each told their story about how they had to struggle in order to get a job or still trying to get a job. Ms. Taraboletti was fired from her job as an engineer with a sub-contractor and once she transitioned, she was fired. She got a job with the Florida Highway Department and when her co-workers started to harass her they fired her; she still hasn’t found a new job and her savings are almost going.

The minority party had the following witnesses: JC Miller, Partner at Thompson Hine and Glen Lavy, Senior Counsel for Alliance Defense Fund. What did Ms. Miller talk about bathrooms! Why do they always bring up bathrooms? Mr. Lavy talked about religious exemptions, how a gender inclusive bill would force people to have to deal with transgender persons, force them to hire transgender, force them to face transgender people, that it would be wrong for them to have to interact with transgender people.

After their testimonies, the committee got to question the witnesses and the Chairman was the first to ask questions. He asked Mr. Lavy if he thought it was OK for a Orthodox Jewish person not to hire a Christian and he answered no. Then Chairman Rep. Andrew asked if would be OK if a person whose religion believed in pacifism didn’t hire a Marine reservist, Mr. Lavy danced around the question and didn’t really answer the questions. Rep. Andrew that asked him if would be OK if a person whose religion believed in white supremacy didn’t hire a black person. Mr. Lavy also danced around that hemming and hawing. Mr. Minte was asked about bathrooms, if in any of the states or municipalities that have gender identity anti-discrimination statues have they had any problems with transgender people using bathrooms, he answered no and that most businesses work out a mutually agreeable plan.

For more information you can read about it here and here. Rep Baldwin testimony is here. On Donna Rose's blog she has audio clips of the hearing here.

Update: June 27, 2008
During the hearing Rep. Sanchez quoted Dr. King and I was looking for the quote, I found it on Autumn Sandeen blog "The View From (Ab)Normal Heights"...
Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.

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