(CNSNews.com) - Homosexual activists are pressuring the House to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). They want a vote on the bill as early as this week.
But a conservative group warns that the bill is being rushed to a vote, even though many members of the House -- including Democrats – don’t support it because it could ban employers from firing transsexuals, cross-dressers or men who think of themselves as women.
On Wednesday, members of a homosexual group called GetEQUAL disrupted a hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee to demand that the committee get moving on ENDA. The agitators tried to hand a marker pen to the committee chairman, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), demanding that the bill “be marked up and sent to the House floor for a vote immediately.”
“We are determined to continue fighting for this bill and intend to use non-violent civil disobedience and people-powered actions to bring attention to the injustice,” Mark Reed, a GetEQUAL protester said in a statement.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the sponsor of the bill, said on April 18 that his bill would be voted on by Miller’s committee “this week or next,” and told a homosexual publication (Metro Weekly) that he had been ''promised'' a quick vote in the full House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) once the bill leaves committee.
Not so fast, says Andrea Lafferty, president of the conservative Traditional Values Coalition. “I think a lot of members of Congress are going to be squeamish about the bill,” Lafferty told CNSNews.com.
“We know there are a lot of Democrats who are very squeamish on this and while (the House leadership) may want a vote on this, right now, I think (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and (House Majority Leader) Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) are getting some pushback.”
The reason why, Lafferty said, is that ENDA would give civil-rights protection to cross-dressers, sex-changers and “she-males” -- those who perceive themselves as women but have male genitalia.
“What ENDA could do is put transgender teachers in every classroom in America,” she said.
H.R. 3017 would specifically prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or “gender identity” -- real or perceived -- for civilian nonreligious groups with over 15 employees.
“It will be illegal to not hire, and it will be illegal to reassign teachers on the basis of ‘gender identity,’ real or perceived," Lafferty explained.
In fact, the bill specifically states that it will be unlawful to "fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment of the individual, because of such individual's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. ”
Employers would also not be allowed to "limit, segregate, or classify the employees or applicants for employment of the employer in any way that would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment or otherwise adversely affect the status of the individual as an employee, because of such individual's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The bill defines “gender identity" to mean “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth.”
“‘Gender identity’ means you can be a transvestite, a cross-dresser and, we’re also talking about ‘she-males’ – that is, a person who is male from the waist down, female from the waist up," Lafferty told CNSNews.com.
The bill would override state and local employment laws on gender identity.
“Because this bill covers local government – ‘local government’ includes a school district -- ultimately it will say that you cannot reassign a transgendered teacher out of the classroom, nor can you choose not to hire them,” Lafferty told CNSNews.com.
Lafferty said this provision would conceivably allow ‘she-males’ being able to use woman’s public bathrooms and locker rooms.
“We try to be delicate about how we talk about it, but even Barney Frank has admitted that, right now under this bill, transgenders can show their genitalia in a ladies room,” she said.
Many people start a sex change, she pointed out, but don't actually complete it. They may take female hormones and have breast enlargement, but not go the final step, Lafferty said.
Lafferty said she personally encountered she-males two years ago in the ladies changing area of a Northern Virginia public recreation center.
“I was shocked, because my mother and I were changing -- we had just been in the pool with my son -- and they came into a public restroom, the changing area, and changed. People didn’t know how to respond,” she said.
"Transgender (men) want to be able to say, ‘I identify as a woman, therefore I want to use the woman’s restroom,’" she added. “How confusing that is for kids – and there’s no regard for what’s best for children,” Lafferty said. “
Proponents of ENDA, meanwhile, say that the bill’s language specifically exempts employers from being sued if they bar transgedered people from using a gender-specific shower room or bathrooms.
“Nothing in this Act shall be construed to establish an unlawful employment practice based on actual or perceived gender identity due to the denial of access to shared shower or dressing facilities in which being seen unclothed is unavoidable . . .” the text says.
But Lafferty points out that he bill adds a kicker -- “provided that the employer provides reasonable access to adequate facilities that are not inconsistent with the employee's gender identity as established with the employer at the time of employment or upon notification to the employer that the employee has undergone or is undergoing gender transition, whichever is later.”
Homosexual activists, meanwhile, argue that, regardless of the bathroom issue, the bill is needed to prevent discrimination against transgendered people.
“Every day that ENDA is not passed is another day when someone in our community will be fired, especially transgender individuals and those living in states that have struck down employment protections,” GetEQUAL's Reed, said.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been introduced 18 times since 1994, passing the House only once in 2007, on a vote of 235-184. The 2007 version of the bill did not include reference to gender identity and died in the Senate.