by Todd F. Hughes
TEP Middle Tennessee Coordinator

We are very fortunate to have several especially progressive and supporting enterprises in the Nashville area that offer employment protection to LGBT members of their workforce. However, in our celebration of these employers, we neglect to realize that within the state of Tennessee, there exist no laws protecting LGBT employees from discrimination. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) addresses issues relating to protections for the majority of the members of our community in the workplace. 

Originally introduced on April 24, by Barney Frank as HR 2015, the wording of the bill indicated that its priority was to provide a comprehensive prohibition of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, along with meaningful and effective remedies for the resolution of said discrimination. On Sept. 27, Frank launched a second bill, known as HR 3685, which included the same language referring to sexual orientation but removing all references to gender identity.

A coalition of more than three hundred LGBT groups spoke out against HR 3685, as they felt as though all employees in this country deserve to work without fear of discrimination. The voice of the coalition indicates that by excluding the transgender population, ENDA would not serve its intended purpose. On Oct. 18, HR 3685 passed in the House Committee on Education and Labor. In an attempt to restore gender identity to the resolution, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D, Wisconsin) stated she would introduce an amendment including protections for transgender citizens. A vote on the Baldwin Amendment may appear in late October or early November.

Baldwin states: “I have never wavered from my conviction that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) must include protections based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. It is gratifying to see that conviction shared by so many people in all parts of the country. I will be working tirelessly to secure the votes necessary to pass a gender identity-inclusive ENDA bill and urge all who share this goal to make their voices heard. This extraordinary opportunity to advance LGBT rights in America is proud evidence of democracy in which the people decide what is possible.”

Local groups such as the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) have stated clearly that they only support a fully inclusive ENDA, which is why both groups have come out in support of The Baldwin Amendment

HR 3685 is important to all LGB citizens in Tennessee in order to guard our rights in the workplace. However, The Baldwin Amendment, by restoring the original language to the ENDA bill, provides protection for all members of our community: LBG and T. 

For more information and how you can help support The Baldwin Amendment, contact the Tennessee Equality Project at or visit the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition Website at

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