Early this month, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community got another reason to celebrate as a senate committee passed the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) that would end employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Last July 10, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has made the remarkable approval of the bill. All democrats backed the bill along with three Republicans – Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Ak) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (Ut).
In her statement, Murkowski claimed that she believe that individuals in the workforce should be judged on how they can do the job and not on their sexual orientation. “Improvements might be in order to in the form of floor amendments, but discrimination should never be tolerated in the workplace.” She added.
Since ENDA was first introduced in Congress in 1994 by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Co) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Or), and has gotten some hearings for years, never it had earned a vote on the House or Senate floor since November, 2007, when it passed the House by 234-184.
Ironically, during the recent discussion, the committee only spent 15 minutes discussing the bill that has been stagnated for long years before eventually passing it.
In a statement issued by Harkin applauding the bipartisan’s great effort in crafting the bill, he hopes that the full Senate will finally take up the bill by fall. Also, the White House and even Pres. Barack Obama himself issued a statement lauding the committee’s recent action and subsequently pressed the House to move forward on this bill that would put an end to one of America’s biggest problem in the workforce, the employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
For years, Obama has long been known to be a supporter of ENDA. Thus, in the past few weeks, he has been repeatedly calling for the approval of the said bill.
So far, the current federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability. Unfortunately, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is excluded in its coverage. Thus, if ENDA would be passed into law, the GLBT workers would be given with strong, lasting and comprehensive protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, explained by a labor discrimination attorney.