WASHINGTON — Today members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee reported out the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill was approved 15-7, with all Democratic Senators plus three Republicans - Hatch, Kirk and Murkowski - voting in favor.
"This decisive bipartisan vote sends a clear message that there is nothing more basic, more fundamental or more American than guaranteeing that hiring decisions are based on a worker's ability to do the job rather than who they are or who they love," said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. "Today's vote is a victory for all Americans, and we are deeply grateful to Chairman Harkin and Senators Merkley and Kirk for their leadership, as well as all the Democrats and Republicans on the HELP Committee who stood by this vital legislation and sent it to the Senate floor."
Leading up to today's HELP Committee vote, HRC had been in the field working to generate constituent contacts focused on key legislators. In each state, HRC organizers on the ground were mobilizing members, supporters, and allies with a three-part action alert series, and generated thousands of constituent contacts in support of the bill. In addition to online ground work, HRC ran a paid patch-through phone program designed to generate a regular flow of calls from HRC members and supporters to their Senators.
"Now, the full Senate has a historic opportunity to tackle this issue once and for all," continued Griffin. "Today this committee proved that there is no good reason for any senatorDemocrat or Republicanto oppose this commonsense legislation. It's time to vote. "
ENDA was introduced in the 113th Congress in the House by Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and in the Senate by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) as well as Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).
Lambda Legal Applauds ENDA Passage Through Senate Committee
"LGBT equality keeps advancing because fairness is a fundamental American value."
(New York, July 10, 2013) - Today, after the Senate Health, Labor, Education & Pensions Committee took a bipartisan 15-7 vote to send the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to the Senate floor, Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta released the following statement:
"LGBT equality keeps advancing because fairness is a fundamental American value. This historic vote marks the first time a congressional committee approved an inclusive bill to protect all LGBT people, including people who are transgender, from discrimination at work. With an inclusive ENDA headed to the Senate floor, we are one step closer to passing a law that will ensure workplace equality for the LGBT community.
"From the thousands of calls Lambda Legal gets each year, we know that workplace discrimination is one of the most frequent problems that LGBT people face. Workplace equality has been a top priority for all of Lambda Legal's 40-year history.
"The best legal protection against discrimination is an explicit law that leaves no doubt that employees must be treated fairly regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, but only 22 jurisdictions in the United States expressly ban discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and only 18 cover gender identity and expression explicitly. ENDA will ensure that in most workplaces a person's job performance, rather than sexual orientation or gender identity, will determine success on the job, a proposition Americans overwhelmingly support in poll after poll. Fairness in employment is a fundamental American principle and it should apply to all Americans. ENDA will fill a glaring gap in our national employment policy by requiring equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers across the country.
"With ENDA headed to the full Senate for a vote, we urge Congress to act swiftly to pass this law to ensure workplace equality for the LGBT community. We thank the 15 senators from both parties who voted in favor of it."
Statement by the White House Press Secretary on Senate Committee Vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
The President welcomes the bipartisan approval of S. 815, The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of 2013, by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today. He thanks Committee Chairman Harkin, Senator Merkley, and Senator Kirk for their leadership on this important issue. The President has long supported an inclusive ENDA, which would enshrine into law strong, lasting and comprehensive protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We look forward to the full Senate's consideration of ENDA, and continue to urge the House to move forward on this bill that upholds America's core values of fairness and equality.