CHICAGO, IL (June 5, 2014) – As our work to eliminate discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans continues, Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest civil rights organization advocating for LGBT Illinoisans, strives to make the protections as broad and as inclusive as possible. With that in mind, Equality Illinois believes the current version of ENDA – the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act – falls short. Therefore, we have issued the following policy statement regarding the bill.
Statement by Equality Illinois on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
The lack of federal protections from employment discrimination for LGBT Americans is a serious issue, a resolution to which we must relentlessly pursue. In 29 states, it’s legal to fire someone simply for being gay, lesbian or bisexual, and in 32 states, employers can legally fire someone for being transgender.
We support the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which aims to prohibit workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans, but we strongly oppose including any exemptions that would give LGBT people less protection than other protected groups already enjoy under federal civil rights law.
Illinois’ own Human Rights Act, enacted in 2005 with bipartisan support, has worked effectively to protect LGBT employees on the same terms as other groups. To add new and far broader religious exemptions to LGBT nondiscrimination laws would set a dangerous precedent for new carve-outs to other existing federal civil rights law.
We are grateful to U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, who worked hard to pass ENDA through the Senate, and to our Representatives in the House who have already cosponsored ENDA. We know that they are committed to fully equal treatment of LGBT Americans, and we feel confident that the current discriminatory religious exemption in ENDA will not be part of the final legislation that reaches the President. We will continue to work with the Illinois Congressional Delegation and our national partners to remove this discriminatory exclusion from any bill that moves forward in either chamber in the future.