USA: Employment Non Discrimination Act Updates

Written by scott on November 4th, 2013

Congress - Capitol BuildingWith the vote due today on the Employment Non Discrimination Act in the USA, we have few updates for you.

First off, there are concerns about the act’s broad religious exemption.

The Washington Blade reports:

Winnie Stachelberg, vice president of external affairs for the Center for American Progress, said the religious exemption is necessary to enable bipartisan support to move the bill forward. “The current religious language reflects a bipartisan compromise that represents a pragmatic balance between ensuring that LGBT workers have the protections they need and organizations,” Stachelberg said. “While the religious exemption is broader than other civil rights statutes it will ensure that LGBT workers have the protections they need.” If anything, the movement in the Senate on ENDA’s religious exemption this week may be more toward expanding it even further.

In other ENDA news, gay-rights groups are putting pressure on Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey to commit to voting for the bill.

Edge Boston reports:

A key vote on the bill is scheduled for Monday evening in Washington, and one more vote is needed for it to move forward in the Senate, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, is a top priority for gay rights groups. State Rep. Brian Sims, a gay Philadelphia Democrat, wrote Toomey an open letter Friday urging him to support the bill, saying it would give gays, bisexuals and transgendered individuals the same protections as other groups. “I believe that there is no single piece of civil rights legislation in existence that is more impactful to members of the LGBT community,” Simms wrote in the letter.

At last report, Toomey was undecided.

President Obama is also pushing for passage of the bill.

Towleroad reports:

President Obama published in the Huffington Post this evening, urging Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Wrote Obama, in part: …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.

Over at The Dish, Andrew Sullivan looks at the case against the bill.

The federal bill banning workplace discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgenders is up for a vote tomorrow. Gay dad Wally Olson makes the case against it – and perhaps his strongest point is on whether it will ever be used: Statistics from the many states and municipalities that have passed similar bills (“mini-ENDAs”) indicate that they do not serve in practice as a basis for litigation as often as one might expect. This may arise from the simple circumstance that most employees with other options prefer to move on rather than sue when an employment relationship turns unsatisfactory, all the more so if suing might require rehashing details of their personal life in a grueling, protracted, and public process.

Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling on Congress to pass the bill.

Pink News reports:

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has written an editorial in the Wall Street Journal urging US senators to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The House of Representatives is expected to take a vote today on whether to enshrine the bill into US law. The act would protect workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Mr Cook is widely considered to be one of the most influential gay businessmen in the world, although he has never spoken publicly about his sexuality.

Do you think the bill has enough votes to break the Senate filibuster? It looks like we’d need to pick up at least five Republicans.

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