Discrimination | ENDA | Gender Identity | John Boehner | LGBT Rights | Republican Party | Transgender | UCLA

Report: Majority in Every Congressional District Supports Law Against Anti-Gay Employment Discrimination

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In a historic 64-32 vote, the Senate this month approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban discrimination in hiring and firing based on sexual orientation or gender identity, sending the bill to the House, where it's destined to languish--at least as long as John Boehner is Speaker of the House.

But a new report from the Williams Institute--a legal research and policy think tank at UCLA Law School--demonstrates that if House members voted according to their constituencies' beliefs, ENDA might very well pass unanimously:

A majority of Americans in every U.S. congressional district support laws that protect against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, such as the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed last week by the U.S. Senate . . .

When a similar bill was considered in 2007, 183 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted against it, even though a majority of their constituents supported the policy. The current ENDA now awaits consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, and research confirms that ENDA would pass if all members followed their constituents.

A very interesting interactive graphic comparing 2007 to 2013 can be found HERE on the Williams Institute's website.

One rather big caveat worth mentioning in terms of the Williams Institute report: the public opinion data used by the center looked only at laws that would prevent employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  The most recent version of ENDA includes language providing protections for gender identity as well--protections that were initially included but eventually stripped from the unsuccessful 2007 bill.  If polled on sexual orientation and gender identity protections, some Americans' responses would undoubtedly be different.

Nevertheless, the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog took a similar look at state-by-state opinion polls before the Senate voted on ENDA, and came to the same conclusions as the Williams Institute:

Will ENDA receive the necessary votes? If senators listened to their constituents, the bill would pass overwhelmingly. Nearly all recent opinion polls indicate that a large majority of the American public — more than 70 percent — supports efforts to make employment discrimination against gay men and and lesbians illegal. Of course, these national numbers are not what the senators are likely to care about. However, when we use national polls to estimate opinion by state, we find that majorities in all 50 states support ENDA-like legislation (note that in 1996, majorities in only 36 states supported ENDA). Today, public support ranges from a low of 63 percent in Mississippi to a high of 81 percent in Massachusetts.

Of course, 32 senators did in fact end up voting against the majority of their constituents that supports employment discrimination protections for LGBT Americans, so it's a pipe dream to think that the Williams Institute report means anything different will happen in the House.  Still, it's worth pointing out that, on this issue at least, Republican members of Congress are pretty far out of step with the very citizens they're representing.

Check out a district-by-district map of the U.S. with the results of the 2007 ENDA vote, AFTER THE JUMP, via the Williams Institute. The 2013 version of the map can be found at the beginning of this post.

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  1. "One rather big caveat worth mentioning in terms of the Williams Institute report: the public opinion data used by the center looked only at laws that would prevent employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. . . If polled on sexual orientation and gender identity protections, some Americans' responses would undoubtedly be different."

    Yeah, no kidding. This is why gay civil rights was defeated in Anchorage, Alaska and in Salina, KS last year, and this is why victories in other places that should have been huge momentum-building wins have been turned into expensive battles with thin margins of victory. All because of the idea that no gay civil rights should ever be passed unless they also cover transsexual bathroom issues and heterosexual crossdressers rights.

    Gay civil rights can be passed, but is being sacrificed on the altar of "LGBT". We are not only prioritizing the demands of heterosexual transsexuals and crossdressers, but we are being forced to sacrifice everything for them. Some of our organizations actively OPPOSE gay civil rights unless the specific gay rights bill under consideration comes bundled with "gender identity" language. It isn't even enough if gay organizations support trans rights but simply want them pursued in a separate bill. No, everything has to be together in one bill and gay people have to oppose any alternative, even if it means the complete defeat of gay civil rights. BTW, some trans people are gay and many are mistakenly perceived to be gay, so they would benefit from passage of sexual orientation protections, which protect against discrimination based on SO whether actual or perceived. But "LGBT" demands that everyone suffer unless every demand of straight crossdressers is satisfied.

    Scr^w this, and scr^w trans activists and the gay traitors who have led us into this scam. We can be allies of trans people but it is insane to allow our movement to be turned into a transsexual/crossdressing/hermaphrodite movement.

    Posted by: Bill | Nov 21, 2013 3:20:49 PM


  2. It would have been nice if they had also in their research established a second figure including protections for gender identity so we could get a good idea of the discrepancy in public opinion. Still, this is exciting to see.

    Not looking forward to the transphobia in this comment section. Towleroad should make a point of closely moderating all posts that relate to trans* people and racial minorities.

    Posted by: JMC | Nov 21, 2013 3:34:53 PM


  3. Supposedly there are enough supporters in the House to get the Senate ENDA bill passed. Boehner is the holdup.

    If there is truly enough support then Pelosi should be working on a discharge petition to force Boehner's hand on allowing a House vote.

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Nov 21, 2013 3:45:38 PM


  4. I agree, JMC, this graphic is kind of misleading given that it's for a version of the bill that is not really likely to be written again. I do think that it would pass in its current form, if the Boehn would let it go to vote, but the Repubs won't let that happen any time soon, they're too busy grandstanding.

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Nov 21, 2013 3:56:10 PM


  5. LOL @ "If polled on sexual orientation and gender identity protections, some Americans' responses would undoubtedly be different."

    Right Wing Republicans don't know the difference between you and Christine Jorgensen.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 21, 2013 4:07:07 PM


  6. @Bill Every word you typed is absolutely correct and justified.....and I would add to it that the prospect of allowing cross-dressing in the workplace would turn off even most supportive employers because of the potential for disruption that it would pose, which does not exist with mere sexual orientation.

    That said, "gender-non-conformity" emcompasses effeminate gay men, as well, whose behavior is only marginally less offensive and less acceptable in the social mainstream than cross-dressers and hermaphrodites.

    And it is precisely these effeminate gay men who have insisted that the "T" be lumped in with the "LGB" over the objections of not only masculine gay and bisexual men, but lesbians, as well.

    So if you really want to get to the core of the problem, you have to understand that the culture of effeminacy overall needs to be eradicated or at least attacked and rejected in a very public way by "normal" gay and bisexual men and lesbians if real progress is to be made.

    All that said, I would not fret excessively iv ENDA never gets passed, since it would be largely unenforceable in any case.

    Posted by: Rick | Nov 21, 2013 4:24:30 PM


  7. "Right Wing Republicans don't know the difference between you and Christine Jorgensen"

    Yeah, but lots of moderate Republicans and Democrats most definitely do know the difference and while they are OK with people who behave normally not being discrimnated against simply because of their sexual orientation, they are not OK with men wearing lipstick and panty hose into the office, because that would disrupt the workplace to the point that it negatively impacted cohesion and productivity.

    You are right in a sense, though, Derrick, in that effeminate behavior in gay men is the first cousin of "gender-non-conformity", so the proper distinction should be between gay and bi men and lesbians who fit into the social mainstream and those who, due to their embrace of the culture of effeminacy, do not and never will.

    Posted by: Rick | Nov 21, 2013 4:29:24 PM


  8. Where's fake Rick when you need him?

    Posted by: Tyler | Nov 21, 2013 4:40:16 PM


  9. @ "You are right in a sense, though, Derrick, in that effeminate behavior in gay men is the first cousin of "gender-non-conformity", so the proper distinction should be between gay and bi men and lesbians who fit into the social mainstream and those who, due to their embrace of the culture of effeminacy,..."

    That is not what I meant, and you know it.

    I meant that politically (and for me, socially) it is silly to separate the two minorities.

    Posted by: Derrick from PHilly | Nov 21, 2013 4:48:31 PM


  10. JMC: It isn't "transphobia" to believe that LGB is not the same as, and do not form one people with, Ts. You can't formulate a persuasive argument, so you want Towleroad to "moderate" the debate out of existence. The perpetuation of LGBT depends upon there being no debate, and that only underscores that it is illegitimate.

    @Derrick From Philly:

    "Right Wing Republicans don't know the difference between you and Christine Jorgensen."

    If that is true, then they have something in common with the people who push "LGBT".

    @Rick:

    You are wrong. I don't hate you. I think the reaction to you here is often excessive. I think you occasionally have some interesting insights. But you are wrong. We don't have to "eradicate" anything and whatever problems may or may not exist with a particular culture has nothing to do with the illegitimacy of LGBT.

    You can support trans rights. You can be a huge fan of atypical gender expression. You can think that fem guys and butch women are awesome. That does not justify lumping all gay and lesbian and bi people in with transsexuals and crossdressers and hermaphrodites, and it certainly doesn't justify taking the position that gay rights bills should be singled out as the special and only vehicle in which transgender-related legislation can be introduced.

    We now have the absurd situation where our gay groups - funded entirely by gay money and run with gay sweat and effort and with virtually no "trans" contribution whatsoever - now are bullied into opposing the very gay rights legislation that they helped draft and introduce and for which they fought for years - unless it covers transsexuals and crossdressers. It isn't even enough that they strongly prefer the trans language to be included and fight for that as best they can. No, they are forced to actively oppose passage of the bill if it does not include trans language. All or nothing. No gay rights are worth having unless the straight pre-op transsexual bathroom issue is covered in the very same bill. It has to be what the trans activists want, when they want it and in the specific legislation in which they want it, or everything must fail.

    Whether you are a masculine gay or a fem gay, a butch lesbian or a femme lesbian, this should offend all of us. This is an aggression against LGBs. It has to be exposed for what it is and fought.

    Posted by: Bill | Nov 21, 2013 5:07:49 PM


  11. In 2007 the majority supported ENDA, nothing happened. In 2010 the majority supported ENDA, and it could have passed but ended up tanking due partially to HRC and due partially to the fact trans protections were going to be taken out of the law.

    Now in 2013, an even more overwhelming majority of citizens support ENDA. Why do we think anything will change? The same types who voted against ENDA in the past will vote against it now, or obviously, not allow it to come to vote at all.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 21, 2013 5:18:34 PM


  12. We don't want THIS ENDA, which sets a rule that sexual orientation protections are trumped by religion. There must be NO religious exemption beyond what the First Amendment does.

    Posted by: Randy | Nov 21, 2013 5:22:00 PM


  13. Something tells me Bill and Rick are about as comfortable with their own sexualities as they are with the openness of their fellow LGBT folks. What a couple of losers. And bigots.

    Posted by: Tyler | Nov 21, 2013 5:22:22 PM


  14. "Whether you are a masculine gay or a fem gay, a butch lesbian or a femme lesbian, this should offend all of us"

    But, Bill, it does NOT offend "fem" gay men....and that reason it does not is because THEIR agenda is no longer the eradication of homophobia and making the world safe for homosexuality and freeing men to express themselves sexually, socially, and emotionally in any way they please.

    No--THEIR agenda has become the same as that of "trans" people, namely the eradication of masculine values and making the world safe for sissies, cowards, and "gender-non-conformists" of any stripe, whether they are simply effeminate gay men who idolize women and model their behavior on them or "trans" men who go the extra step of dressing like women or--in the most extreme cases--trying to turn themselves into women.

    If that were not the case, then we would not have the problem you are referring to--after all, "trans" people are outnumbered by gay people by about 1000-1, so "trans" people are utterly incapable of insisting on their inclusion in such bills without a large proportion of gays going along with them.....they simply don't have the numbers to do so.

    So you have to ask yourself why the gays who are willing to let ENDA and other such legislation go down to defeat if it does not include the "T" are willing to do so....and the answer lies in the explanation I just gave you......What other explanation would there be for it?

    Posted by: Rick | Nov 21, 2013 5:24:21 PM


  15. Hahaha oh dear the bigots are fighting.

    And to claim that LGBT makes it so there's no distinctions between sexual orientation and gender identity is absurd. You might as well argue that being called "homosexual" erases the distinction between being gay or lesbian.

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Nov 21, 2013 5:58:33 PM


  16. Rick:

    Well, there certainly are people who are prioritizing gender issues over and above gay civil rights. However, we should oppose those folks on the merits of their argument or lack thereof, not on whether they personally are fem or masculine or anything else. I am confident that there are fem gay men who are not on board with destroying opportunities to pass gay civil rights laws if they aren't stuffed with trans language. (And BTW, these guys have the most at stake, because their effeminacy or other gender atypical conduct might well be taken as a sign of homosexuality by a stereotyping and discriminating employer and thus would be the basis of a "perceived sexual orientation discrimination" claim available under any gay rights law. They lose that protection when gay rights proposals fail because of LGBT.)

    OTOH, I also know that there are non-fem gay men who have bought into the whole LGBT nonsense and support the self-defeating approach to ENDA that LGBT forces upon us. Not because they have made some conscious decision to prioritize a gender war over gay rights. But because, like anyone else, they simply made a bad judgment or latched onto some emotional argument or appeal to political correctness.

    In most cases, they haven't really given it much thought at all. They let the letters think for them. They say "Well, it says LGBT so I guess this is how it needs to be." That was sort of the point of inventing "LGBT people." In true Orwellian fashion, you alter language and the new language limits and channels thought. But unlike Orwell's Oceania, we have the freedom to challenge this and go beyond the made-up letter combinations. When you bore down a bit and explain that there was no such term as LGBT only a short time ago and go through the sham justifications for the concept, you can see the light go on in their heads.

    So I say let's keep the argument focused on the merits and make it right vs. wrong, not masc gay vs. fem gay. We need all LGBs to stand together for their civil rights and common identity.

    Tyler - Calling people names isn't persuasive. Makes you look immature. As does calling for people to commit suicide, which is what you posted a couple of days ago. I am pretty sure that you are Kiwi, since there are very few people here who would post something as horrific as that. And BTW, my very cute partner of 7 years and fiance would disagree with you about my gayness comfort level. Lol!

    Posted by: Bill | Nov 21, 2013 6:05:33 PM


  17. "(And BTW, these guys have the most at stake, because their effeminacy or other gender atypical conduct might well be taken as a sign of homosexuality by a stereotyping and discriminating employer and thus would be the basis of a "perceived sexual orientation discrimination" claim available under any gay rights law. They lose that protection when gay rights proposals fail because of LGBT.)"

    OK, this is where I lose you. If you think it is not OK to discriminate against gay men on the basis of "gender atypical" behavior, then why do YOU not think it is not OK to discriminate against "cross-dressers", who, after all, are just engaging in a more extreme form of "gender atypical" behavior than men who swish and lisp and call each other "girl" and "Miss Thing"

    Because I can assure you that people in the social mainstream do not see or care about the distinction between men who simply try to act like women and refer to other men in the female vernacular.....on the one hand....and men who like to wear high heels and lipstick on the other. In their minds (the minds of people in the social mainstream, that is)--and in reality--the distinction that really matters is that these are men who have rejected masculine values and who have essentially no male identity to speak of....which is why they don't fit in to the social mainstream, NOT, at this point, because of their sexual orientation.

    So what makes you think that, in the real world, people would be any more sympathetic to a man who behaves like a woman and one who dresses like a woman or actually wants to be a woman......and why should they be?

    Your distinction strikes me as arbitrary and not likely to be convincing to a lot of people. I really don't think homosexuality is much of an issue any more, but effeminate behavior among men is and always will be cause for social rejection, regardless of what kind of laws get passed.

    Posted by: Rick | Nov 21, 2013 6:24:04 PM


  18. Rick,

    Trust me on this, my friend. Homosexuality matters. To a lot of people. In Hawaii, there were thousands of people who lined up to publicly denounce gays and homosexuality recently. I listened to a few hours of that testimony and I can tell you that none of it had anything to do with masculine or feminine, or whether gay men snapped their fingers or liked soap operas. It was 90% about the Bible and about 10% about promiscuity and STIs. It was about sex and sexual orientation, not gender. The same thing happened in RI and Delaware and other states. All of those folks would readily discriminate against gay people in employment even if they were as masculine as Matt Bomer.

    Now as for your other question about protecting crossdressers vs. protecting fem gay men: I emphasized that fem gay men are especially likely to benefit from the passage of sexual orientation protections only to counter this notion that you have that fem gay men surely must all be slavishly loyal to the ideology of LGBT. There is no reason for that to be the case, and it is not in their interest for the ideology of LGBT to prevail. Banning discrimination based on sexual orientation helps them b/c some homophobes - not all, but some - equate being fem with being gay. (Irony alert: these homophobes think just like the LGBT pushers do. Both homophobia and the ideology of LGBT are grounded in stereotypes.) The protection only comes in when the effeminacy is being used by the employer as a proxy for sexual orientation. Gay civil rights laws do not provide protection against discrimination based on fem behavior per se. So if an employer could show that it has gay and lesbian people working happily at the company and did not discriminate based on SO, then the employee who was fired for wearing a tiara wouldn't have a case under a sexual orientation-only law.

    But what about that tiara-wearing employee? Does it necessarily follow that we should support or oppose protections for people like him, or crossdressers, or transsexuals? The answer is that it is that you could reasonably support or oppose such protections. It really is a separate debate and like the debate over all these employment laws, it involves a balancing of interests and factors (how widespread is the discrimination, how many people are impacted, how many employers would be burdened by a new law and by how much, what is the risk of excessive litigation or litigation abuse, how hard would it be for the employee to conform to employer demands, etc).

    I think you could be fully supportive of an expansive trans rights bill, but want it considered separately from a gay rights bill, inasmuch as it raises different issues and presents different questions of employer responsibility and potential liability. You could also make an argument that the line is properly drawn at sexual orientation and that "transgender" does not merit its own category in antidiscrimination law. You could also make the argument that protections should be extended expressly to transsexuals, the intersexed and other component groups within "transgender" who are more easily defined and who have a stable gender identity, but not to the amorphous "gender expression" category that would sweep in a huge number of people based on potentially ephemeral conduct.

    You could argue any of these positions. We should have that debate. But it isn't a debate that should happen whenever a gay civil rights bill is proposed and it is abhorrent that LGBs and LGBs alone are required by "LGBT activists" to sacrifice their civil rights -indeed to oppose their own civil rights - unless they are bundled with "trans" issues.

    Posted by: Bill | Nov 21, 2013 7:33:54 PM


  19. (Not the same guy posting as "Bill" above)

    It is worth noting that what constituents want is not necessarily what likely voters want, and then (for the Republicans) there is the question of getting through the primaries where the voters are more right-wing than in the actual election. In addition,there is the possibility of NOM or NOM-like groups punishing Republicans who vote in favor of ENDA by funding even more conservative opponents in the next primary. Maybe it isn't surprising that some of them are ignoring their constituents on a specific issue that isn't a "hot button" one for many of them.

    If enough Republican congresspersons vote for ENDA, threats to punish them by funding opponents are less credible due to the funds for that having to be spread too thin, but that assumes they would target all equally and not pick one or two to make examples of.

    Let's just hope there is enough support to get ENDA passed.


    Posted by: BIll | Nov 22, 2013 5:12:16 PM


  20. It saves straight people from discrimination, too.

    I wonder if it'd be easier for 'some' people to support ENDA if it was noted that it'll protect straight people from being fired for not-being-gay.

    Ya know, It'll keep that homo in upper management from firing you, taking away your livelihood, merely because you're straight.

    How can you not be for that?

    Posted by: lookyloo | Nov 23, 2013 8:37:42 AM


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