Dallas County commissioners on Tuesday passed explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender workers, adding “transgender, gender identity and gender expression” language to longstanding protected classes “religion, color, race, sex, age, national origin, disability and political affiliation.”
The change passed by a 3-2 vote down party lines with Democrats in favor.
A decision on March 22 added sexual orientation to existing legislation, but trans people have been lobbying since that decision to also have gender identity/expression covered.
From Dallas News:
The 3-2 vote was split along party lines. The court’s two Republicans, Maurine Dickey and Mike Cantrell, voted against the proposal.
Voting in favor were the three Democrats: County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioners John Wiley Price and Elba Garcia.
Price, who has been noncommittal about the matter for weeks, said he placed the item on Tuesday’s agenda for a vote after having a change of heart.
“At the end of the day, it’s about doing the right thing,” Price said prior to the vote.
Garcia called the decision a “historic moment” for the county. She also said she took part in the vote to add such protections to city of Dallas employees almost a decade ago.
“For me, it’s about equality and justice for everybody,” Garcia said. “We’re just catching up.”
Tuesday’s success has been put down to the fact that the Commissioners Court has, for the first time since the 1980s, a Democratic majority.
Republican Maurine Dickey said she voted against the bill because she believes transgender people are covered under former language. Mike Cantrell, who also voted against, said his no vote was to save taxpayers from potential legal liability.
A federal trans-inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act currently sits in Congress. It is not expected to gain traction this year given the hostile GOP majority in the House, however the legislation’s key sponsors including Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) have said they will use this opportunity to build support among Republican colleagues.
Advocates have pressed President Obama to issue an executive order for LGBT workplace protections which would be a non-permanent and limited short-term measure until ENDA can be moved in Congress. You can read more on the possibility of an executive order here.
For more on ENDA, please click here.