Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities in Housing and Employment

  1. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act
    A note by Mick Ellis

  2. Clear Majority of American Voters Oppose Repealing State Non-Discrimination Laws That Include Sexual Orientation

  3. Conservatives Urge Congress to Vote Down Gay Rights Bill

  4. "Out at Work", A New American Undercover Documentary, Debuted January 6 on HBO

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1. THE EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT
WHAT IS ENDA AND HOW DOES ENDA WORK?
A Note by Mick Ellis

The Human Rights Campaign is working hard to pass a federal bill that would make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace illegal. This bill is known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. You may remember that this bill would add sexual orientation to the existing non-discrimination bill (which prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing and promotion discrimination based on race, color, disability, national origin, age, religious affiliation, and gender).

IT IS PERFECTLY LEGAL TO FIRE SOMEONE OR NOT HIRE SOMEONE IN ALL BUT NINE STATES JUST FOR BEING GAY OR LESBIAN (OR BEING THOUGHT TO BE GAY OR LESBIAN) — IT’S TRUE.

For your information, here is more detail about ENDA:

– Extends federal employment discrimination protections currently provided based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age and disability to sexual orientation. Thus ENDA extends fair employment practices — not special rights — to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and heterosexuals.

WHAT ENDA DOES NOT DO:

  • Does not cover small businesses fewer than 15 employees.
  • Does not cover religious institutions.
  • Does not apply to the uniformed members of the armed services.
  • Does not allow preferential treatment, including quotas based on sexual orientation.
  • Does not allow a disparate impact claim available under Title VII.
  • Does not require an employer to provide benefits to the same sex partner of an employee.
  • Does not apply retroactively.

Mick Ellis, Director
Student Activities/University Center
Room 220, Mary Graydon Center
American University
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016-8148
E-mail: mellis@american.edu

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2. CLEAR MAJORITY OF AMERICAN VOTERS OPPOSE REPEALING STATE NON-DISCRIMINATION LAWS THAT INCLUDE SEXUAL ORIENTATION
Opposition Extends to Every Region of U.S., According to New Poll

WASHINGTON — By a margin of more than two to one, a solid majority of American voters oppose repealing state laws that protect gays and lesbians from job discrimination, according to a bipartisan poll released today by the Human Rights Campaign.

The survey found 59 percent of U.S. voters oppose repealing these laws, including 35 percent who strongly oppose repealing them. Just under one in four — 24 percent — favor repealing such state laws.

Majority opposition to repealing state anti-discrimination laws extends to every region of the country, the survey found. More than two-thirds of Western voters (68 percent) and nearly two-thirds of voters in the Northeast (65 percent) oppose repealing such laws, including 44 percent in both of these regions who strongly oppose repeal. Even a majority of Southern voters – 51 percent — and North Central voters –56 percent — oppose repealing state anti-discrimination laws.

The Human Rights Campaign draws two clear conclusions from the poll results, according to David M. Smith, HRC’s senior strategist.

"The first is that last month’s repeal of the statewide anti-discrimination law in Maine was a fluke caused by factors including low voter turnout, a single-issue ballot in the middle of winter and a disingenuous campaign by religious political extremists," Smith said. "The second is that a plan by the Christian Coalition to use Maine as a model to be exported to other states is bound to fail."

The pollsters — Celinda Lake of Lake Sosin Snell Perry & Associates, a Democratic firm, and Linda DiVall of American Viewpoint, a Republican company — predict that over time, Americans’ support for non-discrimination laws is only likely to grow because younger voters are more likely to oppose repeal than older. Among registered voters under age 35, 70 percent oppose repeal, according to the survey. Among voters over 35 years old, 54 percent oppose. Younger women are most strongly opposed to repeal, with 45 percent of women under age 40 strongly opposed.

Survey results are based on a national random sample of 1,010 American adults who were interviewed from March 4-8, 1998, including a subset of 788 registered voters. The margin of error for the entire sample was +/- 3.1 percent; for registered voters, it was +/- 3.5 percent.

Ten states currently include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination laws: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Federal law and the civil rights laws of the remaining states do not yet protect Americans from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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3. CONSERVATIVES URGE CONGRESS TO VOTE DOWN GAY RIGHTS BILL
By Lauren Keeport
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A group of social conservatives Thursday urged that Congress reject a homosexual rights bill, saying that homosexuals who claim to be hate victims are often those most guilty of discrimination.

"We’ve received death threats and hate mail because we’ve used our First Amendment rights to speak out for the biblical teachings we believe in and live by," said the black gospel duo Angie and Debbie Winans.

The Winans referred to their 1997 song "Not Natural," which condemns homosexuality, violence, pornography and abortion.

Included on the album "Bold," the controversial song has been banned from some radio stations at the request of homosexuals who accuse the sisters of promoting hate and bigotry.

The singers were among those appearing at a congressional briefing, urging rejection of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

The briefing, sponsored by the Rev. Louis Sheldon of the Washington, D.C.-based Traditional Values Coalition, featured testimonies against the ENDA, a bill meant "to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," which is currently in House and Senate committees.

At Thursday’s briefing, the Winans insisted that they "hate the sin, but love the sinner," while maintaining that race is not a fair comparison to homosexuality.

"Behaviors are changeable," Angie Winans said, but race is "immutable."

"All you have to do is look at me to know I’m black," she said.

Joining the Winans at the hearing were Heather Trelow, a fifth-grader from Alameda, Calif., who says her teacher used her classroom as a platform to discuss and condone homosexuality, and Ron Grier, a fireman from Madison, Wis., who said he was suspended from his job for distributing religious tracts that condemned homosexuality.

Later, Mr. Grier claims, he was fired for fighting the hiring of a lesbian fire chief, who he said was "grossly underqualified." He emphasized at the hearing that his is not an isolated case. "We’re here to let you know what’s going on around the country, to stand up and let the truth be known," he said.

Homosexual activists, meanwhile, delivered an "opposing view" with a celebrity press conference an hour before the Traditional Values Coalition briefing.

"The message you will hear [at the briefing] is designed to misinform," said Candace Gingrich, lesbian sister of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and associate manager of the Coming Out Project, "using negative stereotypes to create an environment of fear."

Ken Marcus, a lawyer specializing in First Amendment issues, fears instead the environment that would be created by the passing of the ENDA because it would allow people to be punished for holding unpopular views.

"It punishes motivations rather than actions," Mr. Marcus said at the Traditional Values Coalition briefing. "It gives the federal government too much power over what we think and what we believe by using ‘hate’ to describe people who are advocating traditional moral values."

Lawyer Dudley C. Rochelle, a specialist for management at Littler & Mendelson in Atlanta, testified that the ENDA would burden employers to the breaking point financially. She says that the cost of the inevitable lawsuits, even if they are won, would force small companies into bankruptcy.

"ENDA would result in suppression of the religious expression of employers and employees," said Mr. Sheldon, adding, "Religious people are being told to sit in the back of the bus."

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4. "OUT AT WORK", A NEW AMERICAN UNDERCOVER DOCUMENTARY, DEBUTED JANUARY 6, 1999 ON HBO

First-Ever Documentary about Gay Men and Lesbians on the Job Narrated by Retired Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer

In 40 American states, it is legal to fire an employee for being homosexual.

More than three decades after the civil rights movement, gay and lesbian workers are still fighting for their rights – and their lives – in the workplace.

Produced, directed and written by award-winning independent filmmakers Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson, OUT AT WORK is narrated by retired Army Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer. At age 23, Ms. Cammermeyer headed an intensive care unit at an evacuation hospital in Vietnam, where the helped save the lives of hundreds of American soldiers. After a long and distinguished career, Ms. Cammermeyer was discharged from the service in 1992 for telling the truth about her sexual orientation during a routine security check.

OUT AT WORK reveals the ongoing perils that gays and lesbians face in companies in many states across the U.S., through moving case studies of two gay men and one lesbian worker, the are exposed to job discrimination and finally take action to fight for their rights.

Cheryl Summerville, a cook at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Bremen, Georgia for more than three years, was fired when a corporate policy was instituted announcing that the "family" restaurant could no longer employ individuals "whose sexual preference failed to demonstrate normal heterosexual values."

Mark Anderson, a trainee at the LA branch of Cantor Fitzgerald, a prestigious securities trading firm, was also fired when rumors started spreading through the office that he was gay. He became the brunt of degrading slurs and pranks initiated by both co-workers and surprisingly, the branch’s top partners.

Ron Woods, a third generation auto worker in Detroit, was physically attacked by co-workers and management after they learned he was gay. He initiated a lawsuit alleging that Chrysler had failed to provide a safe work environment.

OUT AT WORK is produced, directed and written by Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson. Editors are Lillian Benson, A.C.E. and Kelly Anderson. Grethe Cammermeyer is narrator. Original Music by Don DiNicola. Supervising editor for HBO is Geof Bartz. Supervising producer for HBO is John Hoffman. Executive Producer for HBO is Sheila Nevins.

AndersonGold Films is the production company of Tami Gold and Kelly Anderson, award-winning independent producers who have worked together and separately on a wide range of films and videos exploring social issues.

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