Did you know that federal law allows employers to discriminate against employees or potential employees because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation? Despite several attempts over the last few decades to pass a law outlawing such discrimination in the workplace, none have passed. Last week, however, senators offered some hope that LGBT employees would finally be protected.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 64 to 32 in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, also known as ENDA. If passed by the House and signed by the president, ENDA would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against a person based on his or her perceived or actual gender identity or sexual orientation.
Unfortunately, the Republican-dominated House poses a major roadblock to the equality effort. Speaker of the House John Boehner has expressed opposition to the bill. Boehner believes it will result in “frivolous litigation” that would be bad for small businesses. Others say employers with religious ties should not have to go against their beliefs and employ LGBT people. In fact, the House may not even take it up.
The notion that providing equal protection for everyone would somehow hurt other people is extremely unfair. Many of those who are opposed to ENDA already enjoy protections under existing workplace discrimination laws. No one deserves to be fired or turned down for a job simply because an employer doesn’t like one aspect of who that person is.
Although some states have enacted laws that protect LGBT workers, it is time for the federal government to ensure that all LGBT employees are protected from unfair discrimination no matter where they live. Hopefully, enough members of the House will agree.
Source: CNN, “Senate passes LGBT anti-discrimination bill,” Leigh Ann Caldwell, Nov. 8, 2013