Thursday, April 14, 2011

ENDA Introduced in US Senate

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been re-introduced to the United States Senate.  This bill is fully-inclusive, including employment protections for all LGBT people.

The bill's main sponsors include Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) & Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). 

With two Republicans already supporting the bill as lead sponsors, including Kirk (who is new to the Senate since ENDA was introduced last Congress), it is very possible that ENDA could pass the Senate.  Keep in mind that the last time gay rights came up for a full Senate vote, 8 Republicans voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" - which was about 1/5 of their entire caucus last year.

ENDA is part of the Human Rights Campaign's Economic Empowerment Agenda.

"For LGBT job seekers, the challenges of the economic downturn are coupled with the real risk that a potential employer could turn you away because you casually mention your same-sex partner in an interview, or checking your references reveals that you have changed your gender," writes HRC.  "For those LGBT people lucky enough to have jobs, the fear of discrimination can mean constant self-censoring, hiding part of yourself, and your family, from colleagues and supervisors."

Currently, gay people can be legally fired in 29 states, and transgender people can legally be fired in 38 states, just because of who they are.  ENDA is an extremely importrant piece of legislation: while we may not be able to get it passed in the Republican-controlled House, we should put serious lobbying efforts into passing ENDA in the Senate and sending a message across this country that LGBT people deserve the right to live and work freely.

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