LCCR Urges Senate To Pass Employment Non-Discrimination Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 27, 2002
CONTACT: Becky Dansky, 202-466-3311
Washington, D.C. ?Wade Henderson, Executive Director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil rights coalition, issued the following statement regarding today’s Senate hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2001 (ENDA).
“The Leadership Conference is pleased the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee is convening a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We fully support the legislation introduced jointly in the House and Senate by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Jim Jeffords (I-VT), and Arlen Specter (R-PA), and Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Barney Frank (D-MA).
For almost a half century, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights has led the fight for equal opportunity and social justice. The nation’s progress against prejudice and discrimination has been one of the finest chapters in America’s history, yet the civil rights revolution remains incomplete.
In 1994, the LCCR adopted ENDA as a legislative priority because we strongly believe that every worker should be judged solely on his or her ability to perform the job. People who work hard and perform well should not be kept from leading productive and responsible lives — paying their taxes, covering their mortgages and contributing to the economic life of the nation. ENDA is simple justice.
In 1996, ENDA reached a near victory in the Senate, coming within one vote of passage. Since then, support for ENDA’s goal of nondiscrimination has been building all across the nation ? from the halls of Congress, to corporate boardrooms, to communities of faith and the American public.
Poll after poll demonstrates that ENDA enjoys the support of over two-thirds the American public, including a solid majority of Republican voters. In addition, ENDA has been endorsed by dozens of corporations including, AOL Time Warner, AT&T, Bell Atlantic, Eastman Kodak, Merrill Lynch, The Prudential Insurance Company, The Quaker Oats Company and Xerox.
ENDA does not create any “special rights.” Rather, it protects a right that should belong to every American — the right to be free from job discrimination based on irrational fear. The reach of ENDA is modest. It exempts small businesses, religious institutions, and the military and explicitly prohibits the adoption of quotas. It places the burden of proof entirely on the person claiming to be the victim of discrimination.
Our country has a deep-rooted tradition of combating discrimination and overt prejudice against recognized groups of people. Time and again Congress has chosen the moral high ground by pursuing issues of justice and fairness over injustice and bigotry. The time has come to take the next important step in our ongoing battle against discrimination.
As our nation enters a new century when our survival depends upon the contributions of every American, the United States Congress should send a strong signal that merit and hard work–not bias and stereotypes– are what counts in job opportunities and the workplace in America. The Leadership Conference looks forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to pass ENDA in the 107th Congress.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse coalition of organizations committed to the protection of civil and human rights in the United States. For more information, visit www.civilrights.org.