“At a time when many are questioning Congress’ priorities, the Senate tonight took meaningful action to protect and advance the rights of millions of Americans. In advancing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the Senate sent a clear message that the days of legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers in this country must end. This vote is a tremendous and long overdue step for fairness and families.
Across the country, eight million LGBT workers are putting in the same hours on the job and making the same contributions as their co-workers. Yet no federal law consistently protects them from unequal and harmful treatment in the workplace. As a result, 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. It is appalling that this kind of irrational, ignorant and blatantly discriminatory employer behavior is legal in this country.
ENDA would finally make it illegal for employers to make discriminatory hiring and employment decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity, bringing protections for LGBT workers in line with those already in place for other populations – and beginning to change cultural workplace pressures that leave too many LGBT workers fearful of 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. It is long past time for sexual orientation and gender identity to be on that list.
Once the Senate passes ENDA, there is no excuse for the House not to take it up and pass it as well. Support for the bill and basic fairness for LGBT workers is strong across geographic, political and religious lines. More than 20 states have taken action to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and, in some cases, gender identity. Hundreds of companies have done the same. Federal law should reject discrimination in all its forms.”
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. More information is available at www.NationalPartnership.org.