The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is legislation proposed in the United States Congress that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.
ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 except the 109th. Similar legislation has been introduced without passage since 1974. The bill gained its best chance at passing after the Democratic Party broke twelve years of Republican Congressional rule in the 2006 midterm elections.In 2007, gender identity protections were added to the legislation for the first time. Some sponsors believed that even with a Democratic majority, ENDA did not have enough votes to pass the House of Representatives with transgender inclusion and dropped it from the bill, which passed the House and then died in the Senate. President George W. Bush threatened to veto the measure. LGBT advocacy organizations and the LGBT community were divided over support of the modified bill.
In 2009, following Democratic gains in the 2008 elections, and after the divisiveness of the 2007 debate, Rep. Barney Frank introduced a transgender-inclusive version of ENDA. He introduced it again in 2011, and Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced it in the Senate. President Barack Obama supports the bill’s passage.
“29 states have no state law protecting a lesbian, gay or bisexual person from being fired, or from being hired in the first place, just because of who they are. In 34 states, there is no such state law protecting a transgender person.“
Source: Human Rights Campaign - Magazine Spring Issue 2013
July 10, 2013
Statement by the Press Secretary on Senate Committee Vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
The President welcomes the bipartisan approval of S. 815, The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of 2013, by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today. He thanks Committee Chairman Harkin, Senator Merkley, and Senator Kirk for their leadership on this important issue. The President has long supported an inclusive ENDA, which would enshrine into law strong, lasting and comprehensive protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We look forward to the full Senate’s consideration of ENDA, and continue to urge the House to move forward on this bill that upholds America’s core values of fairness and equality.
Senate advances gay rights bill
November 04, 2013, 06:33 pm By Ramsey Cox – TheHill
“The right to work is fundamental,” Collins said on the Senate floor. “How can we in good conscious deny that right to any LGBT individual? … It’s simply the right thing to do to pass this bill.”
The bill, S. 815, would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Democrats and gay rights groups say ENDA is needed because not every state has approved such protections.
The Senate voted 61-30 on Monday to begin debate on legislation that would create workplace protections for gay and transgender people in all 50 states.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, and will now have to move through a series of procedural hurdles before final Senate passage, which is expected later this week.
Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting to advance the bill: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah).
Another GOP supporter of ENDA, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), was not present for the vote.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would enforce the new workplace rules.
The White House said President Obama “welcomes the Senate’s bipartisan first step” towards passage of the bill.
“[Obama] thanks the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood up for America’s core values of fairness and equality,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) — the first openly gay U.S. senator — said the vote was about “freedom, fairness and opportunity” and said Republicans who support the bill would be remembered for their “courage.”
ENDA, which was first proposed in 1994, passed the House in 2007 but has never passed the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said a federal law is needed “to ensure all Americans, no matter where they are, will not be afraid to go to work.”
But even if the bill passes the Senate, as expected, it appears to be going nowhere in the Republican House.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday said he is opposed to ENDA because it could open businesses up to lawsuits.
“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.
Boehner’s office also said the Speaker believes current law already prohibits employers from firing their workers because of their sexual orientation.
Conservative groups such as Heritage Action have urged members of Congress to block ENDA, warning it would undercut First Amendment freedoms.
“The legislation would severely undermine civil liberties, increase government interference in the labor market, and trample on religious liberty,” Heritage Action said in a statement.
Democrats have included language in the bill that would exempt military and religious organizations from complying with the non-discrimination measure.
November 04, 2013
Statement by the Press Secretary on Senate’s Successful Procedural Vote on the Employment Non‑Discrimination Act of 2013
The President welcomes the Senate’s bipartisan first step towards final passage of S. 815, the Employment Non‑Discrimination Act of 2013. He has long supported an inclusive ENDA, which would establish lasting and comprehensive Federal protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He thanks the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood up for America’s core values of fairness and equality, and looks forward to the Senate’s consideration of ENDA. He also encourages lawmakers to ensure that the legislation remains true to its goals as it is considered .
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) November 7, 2013
November 07, 2013
Statement by the President on Senate Passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013
For more than two centuries, the story of our nation has been the story of more citizens realizing the rights and freedoms that are our birthright as Americans. Today, a bipartisan majority in the Senate took another important step in this journey by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would help end the injustice of our fellow Americans being denied a job or fired just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.
Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago. In particular, I thank Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Harkin, Senators Merkley and Collins for their leadership, and Senator Kirk for speaking so eloquently in support of this legislation. Now it’s up to the House of Representatives. This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities. They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.
One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do. Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it. I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law. On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans.