On Thursday, November 7, 2013, the U.S. Senate approved a landmark civil rights legislation that would protect gay, lesbian and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace. The Employment Nondiscrimination Act, or ENDA, passed the Democratic-led chamber on Thursday, 64 to 32. Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake became the latest GOP members to support the measure. They joined Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and the bill’s co-sponsor, Ron Kirk of Illinois.
Employees are already guaranteed protections against discrimination on the basis of race, gender and religion. This bill would provide the same protections for LGBT workers. Employers would no longer be able to discriminate against a LGBT person’s “actual or perceived” sexual orientation of gender identity. It would not be lawful for employers to discriminate based on a person’s “actual or perceived” sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a statement immediately following the vote, Obama also called on the House to take up the bill. “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,” he said. “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.”
Twenty-one states currently have laws protecting lesbian and gay workers from discrimination and 17 states protect transgender workers.