As he promised last year, Sen. Ted Kennedy will introduce the trans-exclusive version of ENDA to the Senate. Despite an uproar that ripped the gay activism community apart, the weakened version of the bill passed in the House last year.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is jumping into the middle of an uproar within the gay community whose causes he has long championed. The Massachusetts Democrat is leading a push in the Senate for a federal ban on job bias against gays, lesbians and bisexuals — but not transsexuals, cross-dressers and others whose outward appearance doesn’t match their gender at birth.”We will strongly oppose it,” said Roberta Sklar of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Leaving transgender people out makes that a flawed movement.” The House in November approved the bill, written by openly gay Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., despite strong protests from many gay rights advocates that it didn’t cover transgender workers.”It was made very clear in the fall that most LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) organizations, the vast majority of LGBT organizations, do not want Congress to shove a civil rights bill down our throat that we don’t want,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.Some gay rights groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, supported Frank’s bill and the decision not to risk its rejection by Congress by insisting on immediate transgender protections as well. “We will continue this work until all members of our community no longer fear being fired for who they are,” said Brad Luna, Human Rights Campaign communications director.Kennedy said Senate approval of the bill could pave the way for extending protections to transgender workers next year, when he hopes Democrats will increase their numbers in Congress and a Democratic president supporting gay rights will be in the White House.”The fact is that the House of Representatives has taken action,” Kennedy said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. “The best opportunity for progress is … to follow along on the action of the House of Representatives, and then look down the road to a new day after we have a good Democratic Congress and a Democratic president.”Kennedy expects an “uphill fight” in the narrowly divided Senate, where 60 votes rather than a simple majority would be needed to overcome expected GOP stalling tactics.
Bush is expected to veto the bill if it passes the Senate.