Rep. Barney Frank Introduces Employment Nondiscrimination Act

U.S. Representative Barney Frank formally introduced the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) into Congress on Wednesday with 111 co-sponsors.

This is a significantly reduced number when compared to the number of co-sponsors the bill enjoyed on its introduction in the previous congress. That said, Frank’s staff were quick to point out that, given the sheer size of the Republican majority in the House, 111 co-sponsors is a solid number that they can now build on.

From The Washington Blade:

The 111 number, which includes three Republican co-sponsors, is nearly half the level of support that ENDA enjoyed at the close of the 111th Congress — when the legislation had 203 co-sponsors, the most ever for any pro-LGBT legislation — but Harry Gural, a Frank spokesperson, said the current number of supporters is “a terrific number considering huge loss of Democratic seats last November.” In the 111th Congress, ENDA had 117 original co-sponsors.


Media reports had earlier indicated that ENDA introduction was set for March 30. Although Frank, the longest-serving openly gay member of Congress, made an announcement on the legislation on that day, Gural at the time indicated his boss wanted to hold off on moving forward with the bill until it had more support.

Even though he’s the sponsor of the legislation, Frank has previously said he sees no chance of passing ENDA during the 112th Congress with Republicans in control of the House and that legislation would have to serve as an education tool until the “next time the Democrats take back the House of Representatives.”

ENDA, as introduced in the previous Congress, would prohibit workplace discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation or perceived or actual gender identity/expression. The bill carries a number of caveats, exempting small businesses and certain private religious institutions, but would strike a large blow for equality given that under current law it is still legal to fire someone on the basis of their sexual orientation in 29 states and on the basis of their gender identity/expression in 38.

As noted above, there is little chance of passing the legislation in this Congress, however Frank has said that he and other advocates would like to use this as an opportunity to reach out to GOP lawmakers and convince them that employment nondiscrimination is a basic matter of fairness and one that, like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, can be a bipartisan issue. It is hoped that, when the scales tip back in favor of a more even Congress or even a Democratic majority in the House, passage of the bill will be a much easier affair.

Recognizing that a legislative remedy is unlikely in the short term, advocates are pushing President Obama to sign an executive order extending workplace protections to LGBT workers. This would not replace an Act of Congress as it would only impact groups contracting with the federal government, but there is precedent for such a move and it would help to set the tone for the future advancement of ENDA. You can read more on that here.


Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to World Economic Forum.


Allan Yorkowitz
.6 years ago

Not a brilliant piece of legislation, with all of its loop holes, but I guess its a start.

timothy m.
timothy m6 years ago

I notice in the headlines on two Care2 topics today that liberal Rep. Barney Frank is "Rep. Barney Frank" but conservative Rep. Peter King is merely "Peter King" -- is this a subtle indication of Care2's liberal bias?

Josephine T.
Josephine T6 years ago

Robert D. - most states are "employment at will" states, meaning that, in fact, the employer does *not* have to have a reason to let you go at all. The only thing that prevents abuse of the system is employment laws that forbid, for instance, discrimination. So in the case of the GLBT worker, it is, in fact, perfectly legal to be fired in 28 states for being gay, and in 38 states for being transgender. Even in states that have GLB(T) protections on the books, frequently the employer will come up with some bogus reason for letting the employee go, and most attorneys *won't touch the case*. Those protections *are* needed, and they *do* need to be codified into law so that your "tiny exception" of asswipes will be the *only* employers to not give a second thought to firing an employee just because they're GLBT.

A T L. - it's been shown in court cases that sexual preference does not cover the transgender portion of the population, so gender identity also needs to be included.

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Roger R.
Past Member 6 years ago

Nov 8, 2010 (10th Amendment to our Constitution)
New Hampshire Passes Soverignty Bill)

I. Therefore, words meant by the instrument to be subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers, ought not to be so construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument; and
II. Therefore, whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force;

Therefore, all acts of Congress, the orders of the Executive or orders of the Judiciary of the United States of America which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution are altogether void, and of no force; and that the power to create, define, and punish such other crimes is reserved, and, of right, appertains solely and exclusively to the respective States, each within its own territory; and

Therefore, all compulsory federal legislation that directs States to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires States to pass legislation or lose federal funding are prohibited; and

but, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis), to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right,

Carole Dunn
Carole Dunn6 years ago

While they are at it, I wish they would do something about age discrimination. It's rampant and gets worse all the time. We are forced to reveal our ages on the I-9 form that was designed to weed out illegal aliens. I don't know how many aliens it weeds out, but it certainly does a number on people "of a certain age."

Natalie d.
Natalie d.6 years ago

Happy this is out there, sad that people still cannot be free to express themselves in the workplace for fear of being fired. Go Barney, keep fighting the good fight.

Robert D.
Robert D6 years ago

While there definitely exists a lot of bigots in this country, I seriously doubt there are many bosses or company owners that would get rid of a good worker just because they play ball on the other team.

These are a tiny exception, and not the rule. So, to force ALL companies to spend a whole lot of money just because a tiny minority choose to be asswipes just doesn't seem right to me.

A T L.
A T L6 years ago

The laws that are currently on the books do NOT cover LGBT rights. It is still "legal" to fire someone over their sexuality. The only "rules" that apply in the work place are those put in place by the employer. This law is NEEDED. Race, creed, national origin, colr, and sex are covered. Sexual orientation must be added. In too many parts of our country we are going "backwards." We are becoming more bigoted, and vicious in our bigotry. Most of the time religion is used as justification for these vile acts. I personally think that if Jesus showed up he would be pissed by their totally UNCHRISTIAN actions. They keep quoting the old testament and ignoring the new testament. They forget that everything was written according to the mentality of the people in that age. You sure don't deal with a two year old the same way you deal with a 18 year old or a 20 year old. Things change, including religion. We either progress or we stagnate and die.

Robert D.
Robert D6 years ago

Gay rights is a good thing. But this is ridiculous. There are already laws on the books preventing employee discrimination and wrongful termination.

The only thing this will do is make more lawyers rich.

And it'll force more businesses to spend more money on legal crap, which will ultimately force prices higher basically causing us normal people making average wages to struggle even more just to get by.

And if people cared about the "poor" and the middle class as much as they say they do, then they'd be arguing against this, too.

Please stop all these government "causes" - I can't afford them.