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The world of development economics struggles over how to define development and what to call developing countries.  Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winner and leader in development economics, defines development as an increased freedom to participate in society.  This week the US could do with a little more thought on its own development as well as Africa's.  (We're not done yet, I hope.)

Marriage equality is an important step toward LGBT inclusion in the US.  But from the LGBT labor perspective, there are two pieces of legislation that in some ways play a greater part in defining Americans' freedom to participate in their society: The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HR 3017)and the Uniting American Families Act (S. 424/H.R. 1024).

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will bar employment non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.  The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) will allow same sex bi-national couples to sponsor their foreign-born partners for immigration purposes.  Together these two pieces of legislation develop our answers to the questions, "Who gets to be American?" and, "Which Americans get to participate in our society?"

President Obama said regarding African development,  "This is the simple truth of a time when the boundaries between people are overwhelmed by our connections... I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world."  LGBT Americans and workers are waiting for that same acknowledgement and invitation to participate—not just in a speech, but from our nation’s laws.  

We cannot lead the world in development when we neglect our own.

Please call your Congresspersons to request their co-sponsorship for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017, yet to be introduced this year in the Senate) and the inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act (S. 424/H.R. 1024) in any comprehensive immigration reform. (202) 224-3121. Or send an email through http://prideatwork.org.

Originally posted to Pride at Work on Mon Jul 13, 2009 at 09:54 AM PDT.

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