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(c) by Mary Griggs

For many in the Louisiana LGBT community, Labor Day is more closely associated with the celebration of Southern Decadence than with enjoying the benefits of the labor movement.

As we reflect on today, we should realize that our community is bound together with all those who are struggling for the right to work. As William Cahn said, “The history of America has been largely created by the deeds of its working people and their organizations. Nor has this contribution been confined to raising wages and bettering work conditions; it has been fundamental to almost every effort to extend and strengthen our democracy.”

And our democracy can only be strengthened when workers in the United States and in Louisiana can no longer be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Employment Non-Discrimination Acts (ENDA) have been proposed at both the federal and state level. These laws address cases where gay, lesbian and/or transgender employees have been discriminated against by their employer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, such employees have little to no protection in the judicial system. The US Constitution guarantees equal protection and due process to all. It is about time that it’s protection is extended to the LGBT worker.

The Forum For Equality has been pushing for local and state based Employment Non-Discrimination Acts (ENDA). In 2010, FFE, along with partner organizations and Senator JP Morrell, proposed SB 211. This bill addressed Non-Discrimination in public employment but was unable to achieve the necessary votes to get it out of committee. The Forum will continue ardently pushing the Louisiana Senate and House to pass a fully inclusive ENDA for both private and public employees in future sessions.

We must continue to fight for workplace equality. People should be hired and fired based on their merits — not the color of their skin, their religious beliefs (or lack thereof) or because they happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Securing workplace discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals is in every worker’s best interest.

We need ENDA now.