November 19, 2013
Chelsea Bland
(202) 639-4119
[email protected]

Statement by AFGE's National Vice President Augusta Thomas on the Debate Surrounding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

(WASHINGTON)-AFGE National Vice President for Women and Fair Practices Augusta Thomas released the following statement regarding the debate surrounding ENDA.

"Though my union issued a statement of support for ENDA and praised the recent Senate action on the pending legislation, I find it necessary to speak out against House Speaker John Boehner's old-fashioned views on the subject. For Speaker Boehner to suggest that there is no need for legislation that specifically protects the employment rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members of our society, demonstrates once again how out of touch he is with today's reality.

"I would like to personally invite the Speaker to join me in meeting with LGBT workers so that he can hear, directly, their experiences. The discrimination faced by LGBT workers takes on many forms. We have witnessed the continued denial of promotions to otherwise qualified workers for no apparent reason until one digs slightly beneath the surface and discovers the demon of homophobia. Much of the bullying that we hear about regularly in today's workplaces is both directly and indirectly motivated by fear and homophobia.

"For Speaker Boehner to suggest that there will be a flood of "frivolous lawsuits" not only speaks volumes to his lack of understanding of the reality of today's workplaces for LGBT workers, but it also suggests that he believes laws against other forms of discrimination have, somehow, led to flurries of frivolous lawsuits as well. Instead, I would suggest to Speaker Boehner, that it has been with and through historic civil rights legislation along with the existence of strong unions, that many segments of our population who have faced systemic discrimination have gained opportunities that they would otherwise have failed to achieve.

"I sincerely hope that Speaker Boehner will accept my invitation to meet with a cross-section of LGBT workers and learn about today's realities. At a minimum, I would respectfully ask that he restrain his desire to falsely speak out on an issue that is so painful and affects so many. We ask that he be part of the solution rather than a centerpiece of the problem."

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