CHN: The Senate Passes Anti-Discrimination Bill
On November 7, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of 2013 (S. 815) by a vote of 64-32. All Democrats present were joined by 10 Republicans in support of the legislation. ENDA bans employers from firing, refusing to hire or discriminating against workers or job applicants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The vote was hailed by some supporters who likened it to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) gave his first floor speech since having a stroke almost two years ago in support of the bill.
The majority of people nationwide support ending workplace discrimination based on orientation or gender identity, and many are surprised to learn that there is not currently a federal law prohibiting someone from being fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 17 states and the District bar discrimination based on gender identity. They are joined by many large companies in banning this form of discrimination.
The House ENDA bill, H.R. 1755, has 193 co-sponsors including some Republicans. The likelihood that the House will consider ENDA, however, is slim given the opposition of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and some vocal conservative factions in the Republican party.