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Reintroduction of ENDA to Congress



Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks

Executive Director & CEO

National Black Justice Coalition

In response to the reintroduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate today, NBJC Executive Director Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks released the following statement: 

I applaud the reintroduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate today, and commend the bill’s bipartisan authors and original co-sponsors for their steadfast commitment to full equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. 

Now more than ever, Black LGBT Americans need federal protections that will prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. With the national unemployment rate currently hovering just under 8%, and African Americans experiencing levels of unemployment upwards of 13%, it is not difficult to imagine that the unemployment rate for those living at the intersection of racial justice and LGBT equality is even higher. Like all Americans, Black LGBT people want to be able to earn a living, take care of themselves and the people they love. But without equal access to basic resources and job opportunities, LGBT African Americans continue to face severe unemployment and underemployment.

In communities like Jacksonville, FL, that failed to pass a basic human rights ordinance in 2012, we found young LGBT people of color fired from their jobs after the ordinance failed by employers that told them that they ‘did not like their kind’. The impact of being fired just for being who you are, or who you are perceived to be, is one of the greatest injustices a human being can suffer while trying to live the American dream. 

NBJC is committed to taking a systematic approach to achieving economic justice, security and empowerment for the Black LGBT community, and will continue to work with Congress to encourage economic opportunities for Black LGBT Americans.  To that end, I urge both the House and Senate to act on this legislation with the thoughtful consideration and expediency that it deserves. LGBT Americans, especially the most vulnerable and hardest hit, cannot afford to wait any longer.  

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.