Democrats’ Platform Draft Gets Specific On LGBT Workplace Nondiscrimination Bill

The platform draft addresses both sexual orientation and gender identity in its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It does not, as the ACLU had hoped, endorse a specific LGBT nondiscrimination bill focused on students.

In addition to the Democratic Party’s draft platform language supporting marriage equality, reported earlier at BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed has obtained the draft language relating to workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and other LGBT issues:

We know that putting America back to work is job one, and we are committed to ensuring Americans do not face employment discrimination. We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

President Obama and the Democratic Party are committed to ensuring all Americans are treated fairly. This administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and we must continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth. The President’s record, from ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in full cooperation with our military leadership, to passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to ensuring same-sex couples can visit each other in the hospital, reflects Democrats’ belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to pursue happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love.

In 2008, the platform’s language did not include support for marriage equality and was more vague about the specifics of workplace protections:

We support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits, and protections. We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act. We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us.

A “comprehensive” workplace bill has been understood by advocates to reference a bill that includes protections for both sexual orientation- and gender identity-based discrimination, but this year’s draft platform language makes that understanding specific.

Although President Obama has long endorsed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, his administration took fire from advocates — and his press secretary took extensive questions from the media — about his decision in April not to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Metro Weekly had reported earlier that then-candidate Obama had told a group in Texas in 2008 that he would support such a policy as president.

Although an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling issued since then would appear to require the Department of Labor to protect federal contractor employees from gender identity discrimination, the Labor Department has not responded to repeated inquires about whether it is doing so.

Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union had been pushing for the platform specifically to endorse the Student Non-Discrimination Act. Although the platform does reference anti-bullying efforts, neither that bill nor the Safe Schools Improvement Act are mentioned by name in the platform’s draft language.

ACLU legislative representative Ian Thompson remained committed to seeing the bill included in the platform, telling BuzzFeed, “The Student Non-Discrimination Act has been endorsed by the Obama White House, and currently has the support of nearly 170 House members, including every member of the Democratic leadership team, as well as 40 Democratic senators. It should absolutely be included by name in the platform.”

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