Polis, Ros-Lehtinen, Merkley, Kirk, Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to End Workplace Discrimination

As momentum grows for equal treatment of LGBT Americans, Senate prepares first ENDA markup in a decade

Washington–(ENEWSPF)–April 25, 2013.  Today, bipartisan coalitions in the House and Senate introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the House, Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with 153 original co-sponsors. The Senate bill is sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). 

“Across our country, LGBT Americans face the daily fear of losing their jobs and livelihood simply because of who they are or who they love,” Polis said. “Dedicated individuals should be judged based on their work, nothing more and nothing less. I am proud to reintroduce the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with Representative Ros-Lehtinen and so many of our colleagues in the House of Representatives. We will work together to see the federal workplace protections in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed into law.”

“I am proud to join my colleagues in the House and Senate to re-introduce the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “It is inherently unfair that many skilled, qualified and motivated LGBT members of our communities too often experience rejections at job interviews, are denied promotions, or other forms of harassment in the workplace, simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is unacceptable. Federal law is currently failing these LGBT individuals and consequently, a majority of states still allow employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill that we are proposing will end this unacceptable practice by prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. No American should have to fear harassment at work, or risk losing their livelihood because of who they are. That is why Congress needs to work to get this bill passed and set a national standard of equality for all in the workplace.”

“Discrimination is just plain wrong.  It is shocking that there is still anywhere in America where it is legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Merkley said. “Americans understand that it’s time to make sure our LGBT friends and family are treated fairly and have the same opportunities as all Americans.  Now it’s time for our laws to catch up.  People should be judged at work on their ability to do the job, period.”

“The legacy of Senator Everett Dirksen, a fiscal conservative and social moderate from Illinois who helped pass the Civil Rights Act, guides the principles of this legislation,” Kirk said. “Our economy needs a productive, diverse, competitive workforce where the most qualified individuals are given opportunities, regardless of orientation.”

“I am proud to join a bi-partisan effort that advances our founding belief that all Americans are created equal under the law. Together, we believe that everyone deserves a fair shot at the American Dream and that our LGBT family members, friends, and neighbors deserve to be treated like everyone else in the United States,” Baldwin said. “This legislation is a reflection of our commitment to ending discrimination against our fellow citizens simply because of who they love. I am hopeful and optimistic that we can now move forward to build a tomorrow that is more equal, not less, for all Americans.”

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against those employed or seeking employment, on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.  Such protections are already in place prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability. More than 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies already extend workplace protections based on sexual orientation and more than one-third on the basis of gender identity.