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Hispanic group urges Obama to ‘revisit’ ENDA stopgap

First non-LGBT group to ask for a change of position

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An organization billing itself as the largest Hispanic civil rights group in the United States is calling on President Obama to “revisit” his decision not to take administrative action to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors.

In a letter dated April 16, the National Council of La Raza “strongly urge[s]” Obama to reconsider the recent announcement that he won’t issue at this time an executive order requiring companies doing business with the U.S. government to have non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Eric Rodriguez, the organization’s vice president of the Office of Research, Advocacy & Legislation, argued on behalf of the executive order in part because it’s “important to millions of Hispanic LGBT community members.”

“It will also help vital federal contractors attract and retain talented employees, as well as improve workplace productivity, appeal to consumers, and decrease the possibility of costly litigation,” Rodriguez writes.

The letter cites previously released information, including recent polling from the Human Rights Campaign showing 72 percent of Latinos support the directive. The letter also cited a recent letter signed by 72 House Democrats in favor of the order, noting that among its signers are Latino members of the House: Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Calif.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and former Congressional Hispanic Caucus chair Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.)

“In addition, 25 of some of the largest federal contractors think it is a good practice to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their non-discrimination policies,” Rodriguez writes. “It is, but it also does something else — it protects a group of people who have a long history of being marginalized and gives them hope. That is why we urge you to sign an EO on this matter as soon as possible.”

Founded in 1968, NCLR advocates for the Latino community through applied research, policy analysis and advocacy and works with a network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations in 41 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia

Last week, the organization unveiled new polling that showed 54 percent of Latinos back marriage equality.

Last week, LGBT advocates were informed at a high-level White House meeting that Obama won’t at this time sign an executive order barring job bias against LGBT workers. The administration is instead focused on passing legislation to provide such protections known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, officials said.

The letter makes the National Council of La Raza the first non-LGBT group to call on the White House to reconsider the decision on the executive order. Following the decision, Freedom to Work announced its new “We Can’t Wait” campaign and a $100,000 donation from philanthropist Jonathan Lewis to urge Obama to change his mind. In a statement announcing the White House decision last week, HRC President Joe Solmonese said the group will “continue to advocate for an executive order from the president.”

The National Council of La Raza’s request for President Obama to reconsider the order is significant because one of its former lobbyists now serves in a high-level position at the White House. Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, was once vice president of the organization and worked with the group for more than two decades from 1988 to 2009. Muñoz was among the officials at the meeting where advocates were told Obama won’t issue the executive order.

Tico Almeida of Freedom to Work, who’s Latino and served as the chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s section on employment law, said he hopes Muñoz will “listen to the strong advice from her former colleagues” and help convince Obama to reconsider the decision.

“There is no good reason to interrupt President Obama’s successful ‘We Can’t Wait’ campaign of executive orders by punting this one until a later time,” Almeida said. “Any further delay will have a real human cost to any LGBT employee of a federal contractor who is unjustly fired between now and whenever the president’s executive order eventually gets signed.”

Almeida said his group met with NCLR staffers three weeks ago seeking its endorsement of the executive order and plans to meet allied civil rights organizations – African-American, Latino, Asian, women’s, labor unions – for help in urging Obama to reconsider his decision. Prior to the White House announcement, the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund became the first non-LGBT civil rights group to endorse the directive.

UPDATE: Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, responded to the letter by echoing earlier comments that the executive order won’t happen “at this time.”

“While it is not our usual practice to discuss executive orders that may or may not be under consideration, we do not expect that an EO on LGBT non-discrimination for federal contractors will be issued at this time,” Inouye said. “President Obama is deeply committed to working to address the issue of LGBT employment discrimination. An inclusive ENDA would provide broad, lasting and comprehensive protections for LGBT people across the country, regardless whether they happen to work for a government contractor. We will work with a broad range of partners to continue to build the case for, and raise awareness of the need for, employment nondiscrimination protections that include the LGBT community.”

Inouye added, “While the Administration hasn’t taken any options off the table, our belief is that the time is right for a comprehensive legislative approach to achieve passage of ENDA.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. sks

    April 16, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Yeah. Hispanic. No, its Latino/Latina. Hispanic is what wonks and Republicans call us.

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More Americans personally know someone who’s transgender, non-binary: survey

42% know a trans person, 26% know someone using gender-neutral pronouns

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More Americans personally know a transgender person or someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns, according to new data from the non-partisan Pew Research Center.

A survey found 42 percent of Americans know someone who’s transgender, who is up from 37 percent who said so in 2017. Although most Americans, 57 percent, still say they don’t know anyone who’s transgender, that’s down from 63 percent five years ago.

Similarly, 26 percent of Americans say they know someone who uses non-binary gender pronouns compared to the 18 percent in 2018 who said they knew someone uses pronouns such as “they” as opposed to “he” or “she.”

At the same time, comfort levels with using gender-neutral pronouns – as well as their opinions on whether someone’s gender can differ from the sex they were assigned at birth – has remained about the same. Half of Americans say they would be either very or somewhat comfortable using a gender-neutral pronoun to refer to someone if asked to do so, compared to 48 percent who say they would not be comfortable. The numbers, according to Pew Research, are basically unchanged since 2018.

The survey found profound differences by age, party, and education in knowing a transgender person or someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns, although in both parties growing shares of Americans report knowing a person who’s transgender.

For Americans under age 30, some 53 percent say they know a transgender person, which is up from 44 percent in 2017. In the same age group, 46 percent of younger U.S. adults know someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns, compared to 32 percent in 2018.

The Pew Research Center conducted the survey of 10,606 U.S. adults between June 14 and June 17. The survey is weighted to reflect the U.S. adult population in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education, and other categories, according to Pew Research.

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Louisiana lawmakers fail to overturn Edwards veto of Trans sports bill

Edwards further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.”

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Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards (Photo Credit: Official state portrait)

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana lawmakers failed to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) veto last month of a bill that would have barred trans girls and women from participating on athletic teams or in sporting events designated for girls or women at elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools.

The measure, Senate Bill 156 authored by Sen. Beth Mizell titled the ‘the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,’ in the Governor’s eyes, “was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana,” Edwards said in his veto statement;

“As I have said repeatedly when asked about this bill, discrimination is not a Louisiana value, and this bill was a solution in search of a problem that simply does not exist in Louisiana. Even the author of the bill acknowledged throughout the legislative session that there wasn’t a single case where this was an issue. 

The Republican majority state House chamber failed to override the Governor’s veto after voting 68-30 to override it, according to the state legislature’s website.

The vote narrowly missed the 70-vote threshold needed in the lower chamber to override the veto.

Two-thirds of both the House and Senate must vote to override a governor’s veto, according to the local Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate.

The Governor reacted to the news that his veto withstood Republican efforts to overturn it in a press conference Wednesday.

Edwards noted that in his view he had “rejected a play” that had no place in Louisiana. 

“I would rather the headlines going out from today be that Louisiana did what was right and best. We rejected a play out of a national playbook that just had no place in Louisiana. That bill wasn’t crafted for our state, I mean go read it and look at the arguments that were made. None of that applies here,” Edwards said.

He further said that the bill was “mean” because it targets “the most emotionally fragile children in the state of Louisiana.” 

“We have to be better than that,” Edwards said. “We have to be better than that.” 

 

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Federal court blocks West Virginia Law banning Trans youth sports

“It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”

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Becky Pepper-Jackson (Photo credit: ACLU/Raymond Thompson)


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A judge of the United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia ruled Wednesday that 11-year-old Becky Pepper-Jackson must be allowed to try out for the girls’ cross-country and track teams at her school, blocking West Virginia from enforcing a law that bans transgender girls and women from participating in school sports. 

The ruling came in the lawsuit challenging the ban filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of West Virginia, and Cooley LLP.

“I am excited to know that I will be able to try out for the girls’ cross-country team and follow in the running shoes of my family,” said Becky Pepper-Jackson, the plaintiff in the lawsuit. “It hurt that the State of West Virginia would try to block me from pursuing my dreams. I just want to play.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed H.B. 3293 into law at the end of April. It was one of hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills pushed in state legislatures across the country in 2021. During legislative debate, it was not endorsed by any mainstream sporting or health organizations. A similar law in Idaho was blocked by a federal court in 2020, and a federal court in Connecticut recently dismissed a challenge to policies that allow all girls, including girls who are transgender, to participate on girls’ sports teams. Legal challenges are underway against similar laws passed in other states.

The Supreme Court recently refused to disturb Gavin Grimm’s victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where he prevailed in challenging his school’s anti-transgender discrimination against him. This decision — which is binding precedent in West Virginia federal court — said that federal law protects transgender students from discrimination in schools.

“This is great news for Becky, and while our work is not done yet, today’s ruling jibes with similar rulings in other courts across the country,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, Tyron Garner Memorial Law Fellow, Lambda Legal. “It is our hope that courts recognize and address discrimination when they see it, and nowhere is it more visible than in these stark attacks against trans youth.”

“Becky — like all students — should have the opportunity to try out for a sports team and play with her peers,” said Josh Block, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “We hope this also sends a message to other states to stop demonizing trans kids to score political points and to let these kids live their lives in peace.” 

“We’ve said all along this cruel legislation would not survive a legal challenge, and we’re encouraged by the court’s decision today,” said ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree Stark. “We hope trans kids throughout West Virginia who felt attacked and wronged by the passage of this legislation are feeling empowered by today’s news.”

“We are extremely gratified — for Becky, and for all trans youth — at the court’s recognition that the law and the facts clearly support treating people who are transgender fairly and equally. Discrimination has no place in schools or anywhere else,” said Kathleen Hartnett of Cooley LLP.

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