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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Senators Want Obama to Ban LGBT Discrimination in Workplaces

Nearly 40 senators have recently moved forward to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals from workplace discrimination.

According to reports, a letter has been drafted by 37 senators requesting President Barack Obama to issue an executive order to pass the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA). The said act aims to ban workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

Under existing law, employers are prohibited from discriminating employees on the basis of race, religion, sex or pregnancy, but the same does not include gender identity of sexual orientation.

Consequently, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has drafted a letter calling for the augmentation of the existing law. The letter was signed by 37 other senators including the country’s first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota. 

The letter revealed a figure from the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles, claiming that an executive order prohibiting employment discrimination among LGBT would protect more than 16 million workers from being fired solely due to their sexual preferences.

The said bill has been in fact introduced in Congress every year since 1994, except in the 109th Congress, but until present, no such bill has been passed. In 2011, former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank introduced a transgender-inclusive version of the bill which was later introduced in the Senate by Sen. Merkley.

Subsequently, during an event held at the Center for American Progress, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa pledged that his committee, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, would take action on ENDA by 2013.

It could be remembered that it was only last April when the news about President Obama’s stance regarding workplace discrimination against LGBT surfaced. Previous reports claimed that the president will not use his administrative power to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual preferences. Although he did not directly veto the bill, apparently he is not an advocate as well.

Nevertheless, that does not necessarily mean that the administration would not have a change of mind following its controversial stance regarding the matter. Who knows, maybe this time or in the near future, the president will finally consider granting the GLBT with equal protection in the workforce, anticipated by a Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer.

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