President Obama: Congress needs to pass ENDA

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

In an editorial opinion for the Huffington Post today, President Obama writes Congress Needs to Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:

ObamaHere in the United States, we're united by a fundamental principle:
we're all created equal and every single American deserves to be treated
equally in the eyes of the law. We believe that no matter who you are,
if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve the chance to
follow your dreams and pursue your happiness. That's America's promise.

That's why, for instance, Americans can't be fired from their jobs just
because of the color of their skin or for being Christian or Jewish or a
woman or an individual with a disability. That kind of discrimination
has no place in our nation. And yet, right now, in 2013, in many states
a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or
transgender.

As a result, millions of LGBT Americans go to work every day fearing
that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs — not because of
anything they've done, but simply because of who they are.

It's offensive. It's wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the
United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a
fireable offense.

That's why Congress needs to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,
also known as ENDA, which would provide strong federal protections
against discrimination, making it explicitly illegal to fire someone
because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill has
strong bipartisan support and the support of a vast majority of
Americans. It ought to be the law of the land.

Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces:
their ability to get their jobs done. Does it make a difference if the
firefighter who rescues you is gay — or the accountant who does your
taxes, or the mechanic who fixes your car? If someone works hard every
day, does everything he or she is asked, is responsible and trustworthy
and a good colleague, that's all that should matter.

* * *

So I urge the Senate to vote yes on ENDA and the House of
Representatives to do the same. Several Republican Senators have already
voiced their support, as have a number of Republicans in the House.
If more members of Congress step up, we can put an end to this form of
discrimination once and for all.

Passing ENDA would build on the progress we've made in recent years. We
stood up against hate crimes with the Matthew Shepard Act and lifted
the entry ban for travelers with HIV. We ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
so our brave servicemen and women can serve openly the country they
love, no matter who they love. We prohibited discrimination in housing
and hospitals that receive federal funding, and we passed the Violence
Against Women Act, which includes protections for LGBT Americans.

* * *

America is at a turning point. We're not only becoming more accepting
and loving as a people, we're becoming more just as a nation. But we
still have a way to go before our laws are equal to our Founding ideals.
As I said in my second inaugural address, our nation's journey toward
equality isn't complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated
like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then
surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the
contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what
Martin Luther King Jr. called "the content of their character." That's
what ENDA helps us do. When Congress passes it, I will sign it into
law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come.

The Senate now has enough votes to break the GOP filibuster in the Senate in Monday night's vote on ENDA. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) announced on Monday that he would back ENDA, making him the 60th member to announce support for it.

So naturally the TanMan, nominally the Weeper of The House, announced today that he is opposed to bringing up ENDA in the House. John Boehner Opposes ENDA, Dealing Blow To Bill's Chances:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) affirmed on Monday morning that
he would oppose a law that would prohibit discrimination against gay and
lesbian employees in the workplace, citing the possibility that it
would put a financial burden on businesses.

"The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous
litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,"
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement.

A Boehner aide added that the speaker's position on ENDA is not new. "We
have always believed this is covered by existing law," the aide said,
adding that it is "not a new issue or a new position — it's a
longstanding position, and, frankly, not 'news' at all. This has been
his position, on the record, for years, stated publicly many times."

The remark from Steel is a tough blow for supporters of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

ENDA is no more a financial burden on business than is the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and a host of other federal employment nondiscrimination acts and labor acts. This is all about "hating on the gays," so let's cut the bullshit, TanMan.

There is no empirical evidence to support Boehner's claim of "frivolous litigation" in those 21 states and D.C. that offer protections which prohibit employment
discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Of those 21, only 17 states
also prohibit employer discrimination based on gender identity). Of course, for some Tea-Publicans, they consider all employment discrimination or civil rights claims "frivolous" and a financial burden on business.

As for Boehner's statement that "We
have always believed this is covered by existing law," it is laughably false. There is no federal law protection, and that's not for lack of trying. A bill
with the ENDA name has been introduced in nearly every Congress since
1994. In 29 states, including Arizona, it is perfectly legal for an employer to discriminate against an employee in the terms and conditions of employment on the basis that the employee is gay or a lesbian. 33 states have no laws protecting transgender workers, including Arizona.

So what the TanMan is really saying is that the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian Americans to equal protection under the law as secured by the 14th Amendment are not important to him, it is an inconvenience for him to even consider bringing it to a vote. Because the "Worst. Congress. Ever." is working so hard.

This does not mean that ENDA will not get a vote in the House. There is already talk of a discharge petition to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. That is a long shot, in most cases.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent reports in House Republicans set to kill ENDA?:

“I believe the Speaker should allow a vote on this bill,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) told me
in an interview today. “I believe that the American public wants to make
sure people are not discriminated against, based on race, religion, or
sexual orientation.” . . . Dent said he thought around three dozen Republicans in the House would support ENDA.

* * *

Boehner’s office is justifying his opposition by claiming ENDA “will
increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs.” However, as Sam Stein points out:

Top business leaders have begun pushing for the bill’s passage. And in July 2013, the Government Accountability Office issued a report concluding
that in states with LGBT workplace protections, “there were relatively
few employment discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation and
gender identity filed.”

Dent similarly rejected this concern. “Much of American industry has
already moved in this direction,” he said. “They have their own
anti-discrimination policies.”

One response to “President Obama: Congress needs to pass ENDA

  1. “Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, which would provide strong federal protections against discrimination, making it explicitly illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill has strong bipartisan support and the support of a vast majority of Americans. It ought to be the law of the land.”

    Does this mean it will prevent workplace discrimination against women? The rights of women– all women (straight, gay, bi, trans)– are under attack from Republican Legislatures and employers across the country. You can see our second class citizenship in the continued BS rhetoric about Obamacare. STILL they are carping about birth control (used by 90% of all American women at some time in their lives) and abortion.

    I’d be more impressed if Obama came out in favor of equal rights for women and extension of the deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

    Passage of the ERA (in theory) would end all discrimination (not just in the workplace) against more than half of all Americans. Let’s stop the piecemeal bestowing of rights.

    http://tucson-progressive.com/2013/08/28/poverty-hunger-inequality-violence-american-women-are-being-screwed/