Frontiers LA: Rep. Linda Sanchez to Hold Hearings on LGBT Latino/a Workplace Discrimination in L.A. on Monday

November 24, 2013
In The News

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By Karen Ocamb - 11/24/2013

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Rep. Linda Sanchez is no weak-kneed ally. In April 2010, at a Rock for Equality rally at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, Sanchez promised to introduce legislation to end the Social Security Administration policy that denies benefits to same-sex couples, married or not. She followed through, introducing the Social Security Equality Act of 2012 that April (seen here with L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri Jean in a photo from Sanchez's Facebook page) and the Social Security Equality Act of 2013 (H.R. 3050) last Aug. 5.

“It is time for our government to stop telling gay and lesbian couples that they are second-class citizens,” Sánchez said. “Same-sex couples pay into Social Security over the course of their working lives just like other Americans. They should receive the full benefits they have earned. My bill will make sure every American receives a benefit based upon their contribution to Social Security, not their sexual orientation.”

Of course, the caveat is that one has to first have a job. And despite the recent historic 64-32 vote in the Senate approving the inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity—and a new report from the Williams Institute saying a majority of Americans in every U.S. congressional district supports such employment protections—House Speaker John Boehner refuses to bring the Senate bill to the House floor for a vote. He believes LGBT people already have job protections.

Actually, Boehner’s not alone in his belief. A Harris Poll on workplace culture commission by Out & Equal found that 76 percent of Americans believe that workplace protections LGBT employees already exist and are unaware that it is legal to discriminate against a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity under U.S. federal law. Additionally, 82 percent believe that these protections should exist. However, it is still legal in 29 states to fire someone simply for being or perceived as being gay, lesbian or bisexual—and in 33 states, it’s legal to fire trans employees.

Congress is now taking its Thanksgiving recess. But Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez is using some of her time outside the Beltway to hold an official congressional hearing on the results of the June 4, 2013 groundbreaking report A Broken Bargain, produced by Out & Equal, the Movement Advancement Project, the Center for American Progress, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Work, SEIU, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Partnership for Women and Families and the Small Business Majority.

Out & Equal explains:

The report details how LGBT employees might have the same job as a coworker, yet be legally fired, denied equal benefits and required to pay thousands of dollars more in taxes simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. A Broken Bargain: Discrimination, Fewer Benefits and More Taxes for LGBT Workers illustrates how America’s basic bargain—that those who work hard can get ahead—is broken for LGBT workers. The report vividly demonstrates that antiquated and discriminatory laws make it harder for LGBT workers to provide for themselves and their families, and offers detailed policy recommendations for addressing those inequities. 

Sanchez, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Task Force on Civil Rights, will hear testimony Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) specifically about discrimination against LGBT workers of color. The report that 14 percent of LGBT Latinos were unemployed compared to 11 percent of non-LGBT Latinos and only 18 percent of LGBT Latino workers were out to everyone at work compared to 29 percent of non-Latino white LGBT workers.