Legislation barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination heads to Senate floor
WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee reported out the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill was approved 15-7, with all Democratic Senators plus three Republicans— Hatch, Kirk and Murkowski— voting in favor.
“This decisive bipartisan vote sends a clear message that there is nothing more basic, more fundamental or more American than guaranteeing that hiring decisions are based on a worker’s ability to do the job rather than who they are or who they love,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. “Today’s vote is a victory for all Americans, and we are deeply grateful to Chairman Harkin and Senators Merkley and Kirk for their leadership, as well as all the Democrats and Republicans on the HELP Committee who stood by this vital legislation and sent it to the Senate floor.”
Leading up to today’s HELP Committee vote, HRC had been in the field working to generate constituent contacts focused on key legislators. In each state, HRC organizers on the ground were mobilizing members, supporters, and allies with a three-part action alert series, and generated thousands of constituent contacts in support of the bill. In addition to online groundwork, HRC ran a paid patch-through phone program designed to generate a regular flow of calls from HRC members and supporters to their Senators.
“Now, the full Senate has a historic opportunity to tackle this issue once and for all,” continued Griffin. “Today this committee proved that there is no good reason for any senator—Democrat or Republican—to oppose this commonsense legislation. It’s time to vote. ”
ENDA was introduced in the 113th Congress in the House by Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and in the Senate by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) as well as Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).