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Rep. Judy Chu Co-Sponsors Employment Non-Discrimination Act

September 23, 2009
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Judy Chu, D-CA32, participated in a House committee hearing today on legislation she is co-sponsoring to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017) would prohibit employment discrimination, preferential treatment, and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with 15 or more employees. Currently, it is legal to discriminate in the workplace based on sexual orientation in 29 states and in 38 states based on gender identity.
"The United States of America made great strides in the last century to provide rights and protections to our most disadvantaged communities.  Laws were made that limited the workday and made it illegal for companies to profit off of child labor," said Rep. Chu in an official statement about the bill that was submitted for the record. "Women were given the right to vote and their opportunities to thrive in our society continue to grow. The Civil Rights Act codified Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream by ensuring that all people of color could go about their lives free from persecution.
"But the fight is not over. The 21st Century will be known for ensuring that every individual no matter what they look like, how they dress or who they love is equally protected in every way," Rep. Chu continued. "This bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), is a big step toward equality for all.  Individuals around the country, and many in California, have been through the most difficult and emotional situations because they found themselves harassed at work, given poor performance reviews, even terminated because of who they were.
"There are countless acts of discrimination in the workplace; they happen every day to Americans of every type.  But most of these individuals have a recourse, someone they can turn to to right these wrongs and set things right – the Federal Government.  Members of the LGBT community are without a strong advocate, but they need and deserve protection just as much."
Wednesday’s hearing on H.R. 3017 was the first held on the bill before the full Committee on Education and Labor, of which Rep. Chu is a member.
Rep. Chu has a long record of fighting to protect the rights of the LGBT community, dating back to her days as a California Assemblymember, where as chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes she held hearings on hate crimes against both Asian-American and LGBT community members. The cases that she examined as part of the committee only strengthened her resolve to protect the rights of all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.
"Kenny Chiu was a 17 year old Taiwanese American who was stabbed to death 26 times in the driveway of his own home by his neo-nazi neighbor… just for being Asian-American.  Matthew Shepherd was only 21 years old when he was dragged from a bar, beaten, tied to a split-rail fence like a scarecrow and left to die in the cold of the night--- just for being gay," said Rep. Chu. "I cannot fight for the civil rights of one group without fighting for the civil rights of the other.  Things will not change until people stand up and say strongly and unflinchingly that we will not tolerate making anybody in America a second class citizen.
"California was one of the first states in the nation to pass employment protections for both homosexuals and transgender workers," added Rep. Chu. "I am proud to have voted for in favor of both of these laws as an Assemblywoman and look forward to the day I can cast my vote on the House Floor to provide these same protections to everyone, when we can all stand side by side as truly equal Americans."