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Speaker promises trans ENDA if votes are there

Tony Grew October 17, 2007
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Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has sought to end the controversy surrounding new legislation protecting LGBT people from discrimination.

A version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act excluding trans people is set to move forward next week, a compromise that has angered many gay rights organisations.

The largest LGBT advocacy group in the US, the Human Rights Campaign, has worked with Speaker Pelosi to craft a possible solution to the controversy surrounding ENDA.

In a meeting with HRC and other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups, Speaker Pelosi has committed to giving the fully-inclusive version of the bill a floor vote in the House once enough support for it to pass has been secured.

“This commitment by the Speaker of the House is an unprecedented departure from the usual delays seen in Congress on an issue that will have already been considered by the full House,” HRC said in a press statement.

“Additionally, as the community continues to advocate and educate Members of Congress to secure enough commitments for final passage, the inclusive version of the legislation will receive committee hearings.”

HRC came under attack for not pursuing an “all or nothing” strategy over workplace protections, and the two openly-gay members of the US Congress are divided over proposals to remove gender identity from ENDA.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has committed herself to including trans people in the new law, which Congressman Barney Frank insists will cause the bill to be rejected by the House of Representatives.

“Politically, the notion that you don’t do anything until you can do everything is self-defeating,” Congressman Frank said yesterday.

“These things take a while.”

HRC President Joe Solmonese defended the organisation’s stance.

“Our strategy throughout has been to stay at the table and fight for the ultimate goal that we all share. Today, that strategy has proven to be successful.

“Now the real work begins,” continued Solmonese.

“We must maintain the momentum we have built up to persist in educating members of Congress and the public about issues facing the transgender community.

“HRC will continue to lead the lobbying and education campaign until we reach the goal we all share-workplace protections for the entire GLBT community.”

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