Today, it was announced that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has the sixty votes needed to safely pass the Senate. Senator Dean Seller of Nevada announced that he would support the legislation making him the sixtieth Senator to announce he will vote for the bill. That margin overcomes any attempt at a filibuster, making passage secured in the Senate, with bipartisan support.
At the same time, President Obama is urging congress to pass ENDA. In an op-ed in the Huffington Post, the President called attention to the fact that employment protections don't exist at a national level, and very few states have enacted such protections at the state level.
However, the legislation seems doomed in the House. House Speaker John Boehner has stated that he will not support the bill, making it unlikely that he will even bring the bill up for a vote. Previously, Boehner has been elusive on ENDA. However he is repeating over-used anti-LGBT talking points. "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.
The talking point about "frivolous litigation" is an insult to anyone who has lost their job, or endured harassment for being LGBT. Losing one's job is never frivolous, and to be fired because of one's sexual orientation or gender identity is particularly egregious.
Furthermore, the lack of employment protections for LGBT employees is already costing Americans jobs. By putting protections in place, employees will be judged on the quality of their work, not on the basis of personal characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity. The act allows employees to be honest about themselves while at work, which would lead to increased job productivity and satisfaction.
"Employment non-discrimination is long past due. It's time for Speaker Boehner and the House to follow the lead the President, as well as the bipartisan support both in the Senate and in the vast majority of the American people and pass ENDA," stated Wilson Cruz, National Spokesperson for GLAAD. "Workers should be judged by their work, not their sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA is needed to make sure that LGBT workers are protected."
Although ENDA has broad, bipartisan support across the country. Anti-LGBT activists have pushed a lot of mis-information about ENDA, and it's important to get the facts correct. GLAAD encourages the media to share the stories of people who have been harassed or fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as to those who are most familiar with the benefits of ENDA. For complete information, visit www.glaad.org/enda.