The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a law working its way through Congress, designed to provide protections against being fired without justifiable reason because the employee is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It was originally introduced in 1994, and has been reintroduced several times since then. It was introduced again in June 2009, and has been in hearings in both the House and Senate this year.
And this week it was revealed that there won’t be any more consideration given to ENDA this calendar year in the House of Representatives.
Okay, my first reaction is, “What the fuck?!” This isn’t a controversial issue any more — the majority of Americans support these sort of protections, to ensure fair treatment for citizens in this country. (The fact that those same people don’t apply that desire for fairness on the topic of marriage can wait for another discussion.) The President of the United States has unequivocally stated his support for ENDA.
On the other hand… Not reviewing it this calendar year just means that for the next couple of weeks it won’t be reviewed. The new calendar year starts in TWENTY-FIVE DAYS, and with Christmas and New Year’s on the way, there probably won’t be much work getting done in Congress anyway. Let’s just hope this doesn’t turn into an even longer delay — while we’ve got the support (in theory) in Congress and in the court of public opinion, let’s get some basic employment protections put into place across the country.
Here’s a public statement from the Human Rights Campaign on the matter:
LGBT AMERICANS OUTRAGED AT DELAY IN BASIC JOB RIGHTS
In light of continuing delays in the House of Representatives, we must state clearly and unequivocally: Passing basic job protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people must happen now. At a time when our government is deeply focused on the critical issue of employment, it is inexcusable to delay action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Each and every job lost to prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity needlessly compounds the unemployment challenges facing our nation. We call on Congress for the immediate passage of ENDA.
For decades now, we have called upon Congress to pass legislation to address the basic right of LGBT people to work free from discrimination at our jobs, and now Congress tells us we must wait another year. In 29 states, it remains legal to fire people based on sexual orientation and in 38 states, discrimination based on gender identity remains legal. In failing to take swift action to pass ENDA, our government allows unfettered bigotry to go unchecked, leading to the loss of jobs, fear in the workplace, economic instability, and personal hardship, while allowing employers to lose competent experienced workers. ENDA is urgently needed by our communities.
The majority of Americans consistently state their support for employment protections and voters have affirmed similar state and local measures. There is absolutely no reason for Congress to continue to delay this non-controversial bill or drop LGBT issues to the bottom of their agenda. We will not be denied basic rights any longer. Nothing is more important than protecting peoples’ jobs so ENDA must pass now. Further delays are absolutely unacceptable.