(Trenton) – Today, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee (NJDSC) is applauding President Barack Obama's plan to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Obama’s pledged executive order will reportedly build upon existing protections in the workplace.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), would prohibit employers from engaging in discrimination — actual or perceived — on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. However, the legislation, which passed the U.S. Senate late last year, has been blocked by Republican Speaker Boehner, who refuses to allow a vote in the House of Representatives. In some states, it is still legal for someone to be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
"Yet again, Democrats are making progress in the name of equality while Republicans are creating obstacles," said Babs Siperstein, the first transgender member of the Democratic National Committee's Executive Committee. "If New Jersey's Republican Members of Congress and their leaders will not help pass ENDA, we will concentrate on electing people who will."
“As Democrats, we will always fight to protect workers rights, and those rights necessarily need to extend to members of the LGBT community. President Obama’s executive order demonstrates his dedication to workplace fairness and equal rights, and we are grateful for his ongoing commitment to these important issues.” said Chris Hillmann, the NJDSC’s LGBT Caucus Chairman.
Hillmann’s praise for President Obama’s pledged action was echoed by two Democratic state legislators, Assemblymen Tim Eustace and Reed Gusciora, who, in a joint statement, said, “New Jersey has been at the forefront of LGBT workers’ rights, and we commend President Obama for doing what he can to protect federal workers from being punished on the basis of whom they love. Every congressional Democrat has cosponsored ENDA, and it’s time for all New Jersey Republicans to step up and do the same. Nationwide, LGBT Americans deserve the same protections as we provide in the Garden State.”
In 2006, the New Jersey legislature amended the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to include protections from discrimination based on "gender identity and expression."