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New Calls for LGBT Workplace Protections

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013   

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - There have been major victories for sexual-orientation equality in recent years, including the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military, and the passage of same-sex marriage laws in Maryland and other states. However, there are few federal protections against discrimination in the workplace.

Too often, said Dr. Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, employers get away with mistreating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers and job applicants.

"There are people who are obviously gender non-conforming, who come in for a job interview and are told, 'Oh no, we don't have any openings' - only to find out later that somebody else was hired a week or two later," Beyer said.

The Center for American Progress estimates that from 15 percent to 43 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual people have experienced some form of discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and the numbers are dramatically higher for transgender employees. Beyer is trying to build support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, introduced last week in the U.S. House and Senate.

Maryland's U.S. senators, both Democrats, have expressed support for the legislation. Beyer explained that it would ban discrimination in hiring and on the job based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Passage of ENDA would send a very powerful signal across the country," Beyer said, "that that kind of discrimination is not only illegal, but it's something, as Americans, that we don't tolerate."

Maryland has a state law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, but efforts to extend protections to transgender people failed in the last General Assembly.

Details of the Senate bill are online at scribd.com.





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