Why do you care?
In the majority of workplaces in the U.S., that is still legal.
There are two things to consider here; one is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the other is the U.S. attorney-firing scandal.
Prior to ENDA, the legality of being gay in the workplace was a question of states' rights. The following states protected you from being fired if you were gay (not even if you were trans necessarily):
· New Hampshire
· New Jersey
· New Mexico
· New York
· Rhode Island
· District of Columbia
· (For everywhere else, it was Screw you, queer!)
The House of Representatives introduced the ENDA bill in April 2007 to protect LGBT folks at the federal level. In September 2007, some politicians got nervous that including protections for trans people might keep the law from passing, so they revised it without trans protections. The new version of the bill, HR 3685, passed.
This is old news in the LGBT community, but we should examine this anew in light of Leslie Hagen's job termination.
Without protections for trans people, no one in the LGBT community is protected by ENDA. Our sexual orientations receive federal protections, but our gender identities do not. What ENDA says in its present form is that so long as gay people act and look like straight people, federal law protects their jobs.
To explain: a femme is a woman who "looks like a woman" by average hetero standards, so that is acceptable in the workplace; a butchie, however, can still be accused of being a woman who "wants to look like a man," which can be considered "inappropriate workplace attire," which still--legally--can result in employment termination under ENDA.
Leslie Hagen's firing occurred before the introduction of ENDA, but consider the following. Hagen was a GOP loyalist in a Republican administration. Her final performance review shows marks of "Outstanding" in every category. The woman who took issue with her, Monica Goodling, was also a Republican--with a J.D. from Regent University (the one founded by Pat Robertson). (If you follow those links, the implication of that becomes pretty clear.) No proof was required for Goodling; the rumor was bad enough. As one Republican source for the NPR story said,
"To some people, [being a lesbian is] even worse than being a Democrat."And as the investigation continues, Goodling continues to get away with it.
Leslie Hagen was not the only person to be fired under Monica Goodling's scrutiny. The U.S. Justice Dept. under Alberto Gonzales fired seven other U.S. Attorneys under the broad scope of the Patriot Act, and at least two other Attorneys were fired with no explanation at all. These attorneys were Bush appointees who allegedly had plans to investigate the administration and its officers for wrongdoing.
The U.S. Justice Dept. is supposed to be (a) a non-partisan entity and (b) just. With Bush's hijacking of the different branches of government comes the frightening prospects that (a) governing documents will outlaw LGBT freedoms, and (b) the attorneys and judges who would combat our injustices will be silenced.
Keep abreast of ENDA updates here:
The Task Force
And stay on top of the attorney-firing scandal here: