This morning, the Senate Housing, Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee announced the witness list for the upcoming June 12 hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act -- a bill to outlaw sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in private employment.
The witnesses include:
- M. V. Lee Badgett, Research Director of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA
- Kylar Broadus, Founder, Trans People of Color Coalition, Columbia, MO
- Samuel Bagenstos, Professor of law, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, MI
- Ken Charles, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, MN
- Craig Parshall, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Religious Broadcasters Association, Manassas, VA
Badgett, among other notable involvement in LGBT equality issues, testified for the plaintiffs in the Perry v. Schwarzeneggar (now, Perry v. Brown) trial into Proposition 8. Broadus has served on the board of the National Black Justice Coalition in the past and was profiled in a February 2011 article in Black Enterprise magazine. Bagenstos served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights, the number two official in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, from 2009 to 2011. Charles oversees diversity issues at a company that has received recognition for its diversity initiatives.
Parshall, the one Republican witness, testified in opposition to ENDA in the 2009 House hearing on the bill, saying it would "impose a crippling burden on religious organizations," according to a report from The Christian Post at the time.
Although a transgender witness, Vandy Beth Glenn, testified before the House hearing on the bill in 2009, a Senate hearing was criticized for a lack of trangender representation in the witness list.
In a statement announcing the witness list, the committee chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), said, "Every American deserves an equal opportunity to earn a good living, judged by their talent, ability and qualifications free from discrimination. Workplace discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation or gender identity is reprehensible and has no place in our nation."
He continued: "This upcoming HELP Committee hearing will provide an excellent opportunity to build on the Committee's previous work and help advance our shared goal of equal rights for all Americans. I am hopeful that working together, we will reach a point where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons enjoy the same rights and protections, and full equality, as all our fellow Americans."
The Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Work and others have been calling on the Senate to schedule this hearings and hold a mark-up on the bill.
On April 16, Freedom to Work founder Tico Almeida told Metro Weekly that more would be needed than holding a hearing.
"A hearing alone is not enough," he said. "They should follow it up with a mark-up, just as Sen. [Patrick] Leahy of Vermont [(D)] did with Respect for Marriage Act in the Senate Judiciary Committee." A mark-up allows amendments to be offered to the legislation and would set up a committee vote on the legislation.
Because of the Republican leadership's opposition to the bill, no movement in the House is expected.