LGBT group leaders gather in NC to discuss ENDA

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With the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) a hot topic in the LGBT community, leaders from prominent advocacy groups of the LGBT community gathered in North Carolina on July 9 with local and national businesses to discuss “the need for expanded employment protections for LGBT workers.”

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin spoke at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center to address ENDA.

“Business leaders have long been pioneers for equality, and that continues to be the case in the wake of recent landmark marriage equality rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Griffin in a press release.

“Employers know it’s just bad for business to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that’s why so many of the nation’s leading corporations are supporting ENDA. As the Senate begins consideration of this critical legislation, we must turn our enthusiasm into action that can have a meaningful impact on the lives of LGBT people.”

North Carolina Democrat Rep. Marcus Brandon and Equality North Carolina Executive Director Stuart Campbell joined Griffin in the event.

With the U.S. Senate Committee discussing ENDA tomorrow, North Carolina’s senators, Kay Hagan and Richard Burr, will be keynote speakers in the hearing as well as the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee marking the discussion.

In attendance were representatives from the Hilton Worldwide, Self-Help Credit Union, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and Replacements Ltd.

Hilton Worldwide became the 100th member of HRC’s Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness at the event. Other members are Bank of America Corporation in Charlotte, North Carolina, Charles Schwab & Co. in San Francisco, CA; and Morgan Stanley in New York, New York.

Senator Tom Harkin is the chairman for the ENDA hearing.

“One hundred prominent companies have now taken a stand: workplace fairness includes banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Harkin.

“I applaud the many businesses, large and small, that have publicly affirmed their commitment to a federal standard for workplace equality. The Senate HELP Committee, which I chair, will vote on a fully-inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act on Wednesday, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Human Rights Campaign as we move forward with this important legislation.”

Currently, twenty-nine states do not protect gay and lesbians from being fired, while thirty-three states do not protect the transgender community from being fired, according to HRC.

With the current version of ENDA introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley in April, fifty-two out of fifty-six Democratic senators signed as co-sponsors, with Republican Senators Susan Collins and Mark Kirk of Illinois also endorsing the anti-discrimination policy.

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