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Senate Committee Agrees to LGBT Nondiscrimination Hearing

Senate Committee Agrees to LGBT Nondiscrimination Hearing


A bipartisan group of Senators is moving forward with plans to debate the Employment Non Discrimination Act that would end anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations sectors.

Reports the Washington Blade:

In a statement Thursday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, announced he intends to hold a hearing on ENDA on June 12.

“Every American deserves an equal opportunity to earn a good living, judged by their talent, ability and qualifications free from discrimination,” Harkin said. “Workplace discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity is reprehensible and has no place in our nation.”

Harkin continued, “This upcoming HELP Committee hearing will provide an excellent opportunity to build on the Committee’s previous work and help advance our shared goal of equal rights for all Americans. I am hopeful that working together, we will reach a point where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons enjoy the same rights and protections, and full equality, as all our fellow Americans.”

This announcement follows a bipartisan letter dated May 9 from Harkin and ENDA co-sponsors Mark Kirk (R-Ill), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) urging the committee to bring the legislation up for debate. In the letter the Senators said:

As you know, employment discrimination has profound effects on the wages, job opportunities, productivity, and health of LGBT workers. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) takes a balanced approach to ending workplace discrimination against the LGBT community. Specifically, ENDA would prohibit most workplaces in the United States, with exemptions for religious institutions, private membership clubs and certain small businesses, from discriminating against potential and existing employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As strong supporters of this legislation, we urge you to schedule a time for Committee members to consider this proposed legislation.

The Washington Post muses that while Obama’s gay marriage advocacy can have little impact in terms of the legislative marriage equality issue, it may very well mobilize Democrats on issues like ENDA.

Obama has of course faced criticism for his refusal to sign an executive order on LGBT nondiscrimination in government contracts. He has repeated a desire to work with Congress to pass a legislative remedy first. This, however, has drawn the ire of LGBT groups who point out there is broad  support for nondiscrimination efforts.

While there is bipartisan support for ENDA in the Senate, and there are a number of legislators both Democratic and Republican who are believed to support ENDA in the House, Speaker Boehner recently said that he was unaware of the legislation but indicated it was unlikely to get a hearing.


Related Reading:

Landmark Employment Ruling Protects Trans Rights

Boehner Totally Blasé About ENDA

Obama Won’t Sign LGBT Discrimination Ban Anytime Soon


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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to brainchildvn.

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7:11PM PDT on May 13, 2012

Ending discrimination sounds like a no-brainer cause. This is the land of opportunity, should not be the land of stopportunity!

5:59PM PDT on May 13, 2012

fact is, one doesn't have to agree with a person's lifestyle to support their right to live it. LGBT's
have no affect on my life. they pose no threat to my safety or security, they won't make me rich or poor, they will have no affect on my life at all. this is an equality issue, it matters not if i agree with their lifestyle. they aren't trying to force me to accept or be a part of their lifestyle. they are just demanding the rights guaranteed to them by the us constitution. IF being LGBT is a sin, it's none of my business, that is between them and god. i have my own sins to be concerned about, we all do.

2:25PM PDT on May 13, 2012


3:09PM PDT on May 12, 2012

I can`t believe that people can still get away with discriminating in such a manner. It`s obscene !

1:12PM PDT on May 12, 2012

This is very good progress even tho' the House won't begin to deal with it. Thanks to the Republican Senators who want to bring up the issue, as well as Sen. Harkin.

9:22AM PDT on May 12, 2012

Good for them!

8:55AM PDT on May 12, 2012

Well, as the saying goes "Hope Springs Eternal"..............

6:52PM PDT on May 11, 2012

Hopefully this really does lead to proper anti-discrimination laws

3:17PM PDT on May 11, 2012

Good news--maybe progress on addressing discrimination will actually be made!

2:36PM PDT on May 11, 2012

I am glad Seator Harkin's is moving forward on the ENDA legislation and will hold hearings. I can only hope that after the Nov. elections the GOP influence will be lessen by the loses of seats in the House that not only this issue but others can be addressed so this country can deal with the mess the GOP handed President Obama in 2008. Thanks for posting this article Steve.

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