Trans-Inclusive ENDA Moves Forward in Senate

Yesterday, the US Senate narrowly voted to bring a trans-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to the floor for a full vote. "The vote enables up to 30 hours of debate and amendments before a vote for final passage, which is expected Wednesday. ...The roll call of the vote for cloture on ENDA can be found here."

Its passage out of the Senate is not assured, but it looks very promising. In less good news, it would then have to pass the Republican-controlled House, where Speaker John Boehner opposes the bill and claims it would "increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs"—a claim so profoundly hostile, insensitive, and flatly wrong that it sounds exactly like something a House Republican would say.

This morning, the New York Times Editors published an editorial in support of ENDA, shaming House Republicans for their position:
A spokesman for Mr. Boehner said the speaker believes that ensuring workplace fairness for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual Americans would "increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs." Those concerns are not borne out by the experience in states that have had such protections for years. And that kind of excuse, of course, was used decades ago to try to block legislation to outlaw discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, national origin and disabilities.

Many businesses already have nondiscrimination policies, and a growing number of business leaders support the bill. This is just another example of House Republican leaders refusing to accept the evolving culture of tolerance in America to avoid a revolt by the most extreme members of their caucus.
The Times Editors went even further, singling out the religious exemption for criticism as well:
The Employment Nondiscrimination Act, however, has a significant flaw — a terribly broad religious exemption. The exemption would extend beyond churches and other houses of worship to any religiously affiliated institution, like hospitals and universities, and would allow those institutions to discriminate against people in jobs with no religious function, like billing clerks, cafeteria workers and medical personnel.

The exemption — which was inserted to appease some opponents who say the act threatens religious freedom — is a departure from the approach of earlier civil rights laws. And though the law would protect millions of workers from bias, the exemption would give a stamp of legitimacy to the very sort of discrimination the act is meant to end. Any attempt to further enlarge the exemption should be rejected.
Good stuff.

teaspoon icon If you live in the US, contact your Senators here and urge them to cast their votes in favor of the passage of ENDA. And contact your Representatives here, irrespective of party affiliation, and urge them to do the same. If your rep is a Republican, make the case that workplace equality is good for US businesses.

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