Across the country, eight million lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers are putting in the same hours and making the same contributions as their co-workers, yet no federal law protects them from unequal and harmful treatment in the workplace. But the Senate’s vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) last night brings us one critical step closer to the day when that shameful fact is part of our past.
It is appalling that LGBT workers are routinely fired and denied job opportunities and family health, spousal retirement, and death and disability benefits based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This behavior on the part of employers is irrational, ignorant and blatantly discriminatory. And ENDA would make it illegal as well.
Discriminatory hiring and employment decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity must end. It’s past time to bring protections for LGBT workers in line with those already in place for other populations – and to change workplace culture so LGBT workers no longer fear job loss or retaliation.
The nation has come a long way in protecting workers from discrimination based on sex, national origin, religion, ethnicity and disability. Just last week, we celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which outlawed discrimination based on pregnancy. LGBT workers need and deserve the same protections.
With this vote, members of the Senate have signaled their willingness and ability to pass ENDA, which would send it to the House of Representatives. There is no excuse for the House not to take it up and pass it right away. Federal law should reject discrimination in all its forms.