The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a bill that seeks to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In a just world, that should be a no-brainer. But although the bill has been introduced in Congress since 1994, it has never passed.
It has been re-introduced in the US Senate today it looks like it has just managed to squeak through the (by now routine) filibuster hurdle by getting 60 votes to bring the bill to the floor for a vote where it will surely pass. In order to do this, the 55 Democrats had to get the support of five Republicans and they managed to do that.
But then things went downhill. House speaker John Boehner had been silent on the issue but after the news of the senate broke, he announced that he does not support the bill, making it unlikely that he will bring it to the floor for a vote and even if he does, the Republican majority is unlikely to vote in favor of it. Of course, the reason they give is not that it expands equal rights but that it will hurt businesses by allowing people to sue companies for discrimination.
This is going to hurt Republicans some more because public opinion is very much in favor of workplace equality for LGBT employees.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research fielded the CAP poll of likely 2012 voters in the first and second weeks of April 2011, and support for ENDA is striking: Nearly three-fourths of voters (73 percent) support protecting gay and transgender people from workplace discrimination. This support cuts across political party affiliation, with 81 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents, and 66 percent of Republicans supporting workplace nondiscrimination laws for LGBT people.
Jeff Krehely of CAP writes that the poll shows that Catholic (74 percent support) and senior citizen (61 percent support) voters are also clearly in favor of workplace protections for LGBT people. Even among voters who identify themselves as feeling generally unfavorable toward gay people, a full 50 percent support workplace nondiscrimination protections for the gay and transgender population.
Meanwhile, president Obama has become a blogger on this issue, posting one on Huffington Post urging support for ENDA. I am glad that he did so but someone should tell him that he needs to lighten the tone (it reads like a speech) and that there is this nifty thing called ‘hyperlinks’.