LCCR letter to the House Regarding ENDA

Media 07.17,01

Recipient: U.S. House of Representatives

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights coalition representing people of color, women, children, older Americans, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians, major religious organizations, labor unions, and civil and human rights groups, we urge you to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

For almost a half century, the Leadership Conference 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 believe strongly 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 of the American public, including a solid majority of Republican voters. In addition, ENDA has been endorsed by dozens of corporations including, America Online, 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 business, 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 with members of Congress in a bipartisan fashion to pass ENDA in the 107th Congress. Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Dr. Dorothy I. Height

Wade Henderson
Executive Director