Compelling data at ENDA hearing
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee held a full committee hearing Sept. 23 on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar workplace discrimination, preferential treatment and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in companies with 15 or more employees.

The results of a year-long study of issues faced by LGBT individuals working at all levels of government across the country were presented by Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute. The study — the most comprehensive review of discrimination against LGBT people in the public sector — examined employment surveys, administrative and legal complaints, wage records and other publications to evaluate the extent and persistence of LGBT discrimination.

“Our findings clearly demonstrate that discrimination against members of the LGBT community is persistent and occurs at all levels of government,” Sears said. “This is exactly the kind of data that was presented to support passage of earlier civil rights legislation, and Congress should act now to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The data the Williams Institute and its co-investigators gathered and presented in the hearings contain proof of widespread discrimination, including:

• One in five LGBT public sector employees has experienced workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation according to a 2008 study; a 2009 study found that 13 percent had reported such discrimination in the past year alone.
• A persistent and significant wage gap exists between heterosexual and LGBT employees. For example, government LGBT employees earn wages that are 8-29 percent lower than their heterosexual counterparts.
• Sexual orientation-based discrimination affects good, productive employees. The Williams Institute has collected nearly 400 anecdotes of LGBT workplace discrimination; in not a single case did a rational basis for the adverse employment action exist.

Georgetown Law Center Professor Nan Hunter, Williams Institute Law Fellow Christy Mallory, eight law firms and a cross-discipline group of scholars contributed to the research.

Gathering supports trans athletes
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A groundbreaking think tank co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Women’s Sports Foundation Initiative: It Takes a Team! Education Campaign for LGBT Issues in Sport will gather here Oct. 25-26 to address equal opportunity for transgender student-athletes. Participants will include top sports leaders from across the country, athletic directors, researchers, medical and legal experts on transgender issues, student-athletes and NCAA officials.

With increasing numbers of young people identifying as transgender in high school and college, sponsors said the event will provide an opportunity to discuss best practices and develop model policies for high school and collegiate athletic leaders to ensure the full inclusion of transgender student-athletes.

Candidates advance in primaries
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly a dozen openly gay and lesbian candidates in three states faced primary elections Sept. 15. Eight of them advanced to general elections this November according to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to growing the number of openly LGBT elected officials at all levels of government.

In New York City, four Victory Fund-backed candidates prevailed in their decisive Democratic primary races for city council, including Speaker Christine Quinn. James Van Bramer, Danny Dromm and Rosie Mendez, who are heavily favored to win in the general election, will likely join Speaker Quinn, doubling LGBT representation on the council.

Further upstate in Rochester, city council candidate Matt Haag could become the third openly gay man in a row to occupy the seat he’s running for, having secured the Democratic nomination. Barbara Smith earned another term on the Albany City Council, handily defeating her challenger.

In Massachusetts, Amaad Rivera advanced to the general election for the Springfield City Council and was the top vote-getter in his race. Maplewood, Minn. City Council candidate James Llanas advanced to the general election, when he will be one of four candidates vying for two seats.

Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said the wins send an important message about the willingness of LGBT Americans to serve their country.

City settles free speech suit
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A settlement agreement has been reached in Lambda Legal’s federal lawsuit on behalf of Central Alabama Pride against the City of Birmingham and its mayor, Larry Langford. The settlement was reached after a federal judge ruled against the city and mayor in their efforts to have the free speech case dismissed.

CAP has held a Pride parade through the streets of Birmingham every year since 1987, and its Pride banners have been displayed on light posts in accordance with the city’s practice of hanging banners for a variety of events held here. However, in May 2008, Langford refused to allow city workers to put up the Pride banners due to his religious beliefs. He also refused to sign a permit for the march.

According to the settlement, the City of Birmingham will pay legal costs and attorneys‚ fees of more than $40,000 and will establish objective and non-discriminatory written banner-hanging regulations for public events. “We are pleased with the terms of the settlement authorized by the City of Birmingham that protects free speech and equal treatment,” said Beth Littrell, staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

David Stout

David Stout is the associate editor of QNotes. He can be reached at