Bil Browning

Senate Passes Inclusive ENDA

Filed By Bil Browning | November 07, 2013 2:23 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: discrimination protection, employment non-discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Senate vote, transgender discrimination

the-gay-agenda-sign.jpgThe United States Senate has passed employment non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in a bipartisan vote.

Yesterday Senators passed an amendment that would prevent federal, state and local governments from punishing religious groups that are exempt from ENDA - effectively gutting any state or local laws that have a tighter definition (or none at all) for religious exemptions. Earlier today, the Senate turned down a proposed amendment offered by Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey that would have broadened the definition of religious employers by a vote of 43-55.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed 64-32. 10 Republicans voted in favor of the legislation. All Senate Democrats who were present voted to approve the bill.

It is the first time that the Senate has voted to protect the civil rights of transgender people. A similar measure that didn't include protections for transgender people was voted down in 1996 after it fell one vote short.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner has said he will not allow the bill to come to a vote in the House of Representatives.

Press releases below as they come in.

(Photo by Greg Hefner via Flickr)


"For decades, LGBTQ workers have had to deal with heartbreaking discrimination when trying to find or keep a job. Today's passage of ENDA is, indeed, a historic moment for our community and our allies. As ENDA moves to the House of Representatives, we are reminded of the millions of LGBTQ workers who are depending on the House to do the right thing and pass this bill.

However, this victory came at a high cost. The broad religious exemptions in the bill cemented into law the very biases that the legislation was intended to overcome. Our allies in the progressive movement, our volunteer organizers on the ground, and our online members have all spoken out against the broad religious exemptions in the bill.

We're grateful to the Senators who stood up and opposed those exemptions. And we know that the road to full LGBTQ equality will continue to be a difficult one, as House Speaker John Boehner has made very clear that he has no desire or intent to bring ENDA to the floor of the House for a vote.

This is why we are calling on President Barack Obama to immediately exercise his executive authority and to sign an Executive Order that would end LGBT discrimination by any company that contracts with the federal government. As we wait for Speaker Boehner to move this bill forward, it is imperative for President Obama to lead by example, and to sign his name to an Executive Order that would protect nearly 25% of this country's workforce from workplace discrimination.

We are thankful for the president's vocal support for workplace fairness -- and we call on him to back up his words with clear and unmistakable action. President Obama has the executive authority to immediately end the pain and uncertainty of hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ workers who work for federal contractors, and we hope he will do so swiftly and without delay."

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

"Today's bipartisan Senate vote is a critical step toward ensuring access to jobs for all Americans. LGBT people deserve the right to work free of discrimination. In our rapidly changing economy, access to jobs is already tenuous. Condoning discrimination in the workplace only compounds this problem for millions of Americans.

Businesses, churches and synagogues, civil rights groups, and unions all came together to support the bipartisan passage of this bill. We thank the Senate for taking this important step forward and ask Speaker Boehner to stand on the right side of history and bring ENDA up for a House vote."

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union

"In a year of historic victories for LGBT people, this one ranks near the top. Getting ENDA across the finish line in the Senate after a nearly four-decade long journey is a huge win for all who believe that workers should be judged on the job by their merits, nothing more and nothing less. Under ENDA, workers would no longer have to hide who they are when they go to work in the United States. As this bill continues to move forward, it is critically important to ensure that it, like other landmark civil rights laws, protects as many people as possible from indefensible workplace discrimination."

Shenna Bellows, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Maine

"I appreciate - as we all should - that Susan Collins joined all of the Democrats in voting for ENDA today, but the measure falls short of full equality. I look forward to the day when both of Maine's U.S. senators have the courage to stand up for full equality, including the freedom to marry, for all Americans. That will be one of the choices Mainers will have next November."

"It is high time that all Americans are able to live and work freely, without fear of being fired because of who they are. It is, of course, also high time that all Americans enjoy the freedom to marry the person they love."

President Barack Obama

For more than two centuries, the story of our nation has been the story of more citizens realizing the rights and freedoms that are our birthright as Americans. Today, a bipartisan majority in the Senate took another important step in this journey by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would help end the injustice of our fellow Americans being denied a job or fired just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.

Today's victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago. In particular, I thank Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Harkin, Senators Merkley and Collins for their leadership, and Senator Kirk for speaking so eloquently in support of this legislation. Now it's up to the House of Representatives. This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities. They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.

One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do. Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it. I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law. On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans.

John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority

"The Senate's passage today of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 is good news for small business owners, their workers and the economy. Small employers support policies that maximize their ability to attract and retain quality workers and help them grow their businesses. This legislation would do just that by leveling the playing field for small employers and workers and eliminating inefficiencies and costs that cut into profits and undermine small businesses' bottom lines."

"Implementing non-discrimination laws that allow employers to treat all people equally regardless of sexual orientation will help small businesses retain more quality employees and free them from extra administrative burdens. We urge the House to build upon today's Senate vote by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013. It's the smart and right thing to do for small businesses, their employees and our country."

Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way

"The Senate chose to stand on the right side of history today. 64 Senators chose to stand with the majority of Americans who believe that no person should be fired because of who they are or who they love. They chose to stand with decency, fairness, and basic common sense.

"The question now is whether the House Republican leadership will make the same choice or if they'll keep pandering to their shrinking anti-gay base. We've seen far right leaders claim that ENDA will be used toprotect pedophiles, "harm women and children," and "force Christians into bankruptcy." Speaker Boehner needs to decide whether he will cave to that kind of bigotry or stand with the vast majority of voters who support this legislation."

Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund

"This is a huge historic victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families. Most Americans believe that everyone should have access to the American Dream, free from discrimination because of who they are or who they love. We thank the senators who voted to pass ENDA in a bipartisan fashion.

"We urge the U.S. House of Representatives to follow the U.S. Senate's bipartisanship and to speedily approve ENDA. This is a popular issue with the American people, at a time when the House is deeply unpopular. Passing ENDA is the right thing to do -- and it may also help to restore some public confidence in this component of our democratic institutions."

Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza

"In a country that promotes the ideal that anyone can achieve success through hard work, it's clearly unfair that LGBT employees are still being fired based on sexual orientation and gender expression. ENDA will help to right this wrong, ensuring that workers are able to fail or succeed based on their own merits, instead of on their own personal background.

"While many people think this kind of legal protection is already in place, the reality is that LGBT workers still live in fear of losing their jobs because of who they are, not how hard they work. Americans recognize that this is unjust. The Senate has moved this legislation forward. Now, the House of Representatives must stand up for the dignified, equal treatment of every American worker by passing this bill."

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality

"ENDA's Senate victory is significant. This is the first time the Senate has voted on ENDA in nearly 20 years, and importantly, it's the first time ever a Congressional chamber has voted on a gender identity-inclusive ENDA.

"Today's vote shows how much has changed in the last decade. First, gender identity was in the bill and no effort was made to remove it. Second, we now have solid partners in the LGBT and progressive movements working hard to educate the public about transgender workplace protections. Third, we have rock solid champions on the Hill like Senator Merkley, who we're honoring at our tenth anniversary event next week. He, along with Senators Kirk, Baldwin, Collins, Reid, Harkin, and many others paved this victory for transgender and all LGBT people. With today's strong bi-partisan vote on ENDA, the Senate showed that it agrees with the super majority of voters that LGBT people should have these basic job protections.

"Now, we turn to the House where thus far Speaker John Boehner refuses to acknowledge the plight of LGBT workers. House gridlock cannot be allowed to delay these already overdue protections. With 193 ENDA cosponsors in the House, seven of whom have come on board in the last week, momentum is there. NCTE calls on House Speaker Boehner to put ENDA to a vote."

Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus

Today the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus praised the passage of a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the U.S. Senate in a bipartisan 64-32 vote. If enacted, ENDA would prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced ENDA in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year, where it currently has 195 bipartisan cosponsors in the House.

Despite significant progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and families in recent years there is still no explicit federal law that protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination. A recent Pew Research study found that discrimination is pervasive in the workplace with one in five LGBT employees being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Other studies have found rates of harassment as high as 90 percent for transgender employees.

Currently, only 17 states prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, while an additional 4 states prohibit discrimination only on the basis of sexual orientation. A majority of Fortune 500 companies already extend workplace protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. More than seventy percent of Americans support workplace protections for LGBT workers.

With passage in the Senate, the focus is now on the House to take up ENDA. In recent days, the Equality Caucus and supporters of ENDA have been calling on Speaker Boehner to allow the bill to go to the floor for a full vote.

Chad Griffin, President, Human Rights Campaign

"Today, a strong bipartisan majority of the United States Senate made history by standing up for a fundamental American truth. Each and every American worker should be judged based on the work they do, and never based on who they are. This broad Senate coalition has sent a vital message that civil rights legislation should never be tied up by partisan political games.

"We firmly believe that if the House of Representative were freed by Speaker John Boehner to vote its conscience, this bill could pass immediately. It's unconscionable that any one person would stand in the way of this crucial piece of the civil rights puzzle.

"We urge the House of Representatives to pass ENDA immediately, and we call on President Obama to send a clear message in support of workplace fairness by signing this executive order."

Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director, PFLAG National

"Today is a great day for all Americans as the United States Senate--with a bipartisan majority--recognized the need for legal protection of workplace fairness by passing an inclusive ENDA. PFLAGers from all over the country have been speaking to their legislators on this very important issue, and hearing time and again that their advocacy on behalf of their LGBT loved ones has played a big part in changing hearts and minds on this crucial issue.

This vote echoes the majority of Americans who believe that all workers should be evaluated based on their skills, not based on who they are or whom they love, proving once again that PFLAG's values are America's values. Now that the Senate has voted, Speaker Boehner must recognize this majority, and bring an inclusive ENDA to a vote on the floor of the House."

Gabriel Blau, Executive Director, Family Equality Council

"This is an extraordinary victory for families all over the United States. Today the Senate confirmed what an overwhelming majority of Americans believe - that no American worker should have to fear losing their livelihood because of who they are or who they love.

"This is a family issue. Raising a happy, healthy family is hard enough without fearing that you could lose your job because of who you are. By passing this Bill, the Senate has sent a clear message to families all over the country - the days of living without basic employment protections and living in fear of losing your job are drawing to an end."

Transgender Law Center

"We hear from thousands of transgender people each year who have experienced discrimination on the job. Fairness is a value shared across party lines, and so I am hopeful that this historic vote will propel ENDA to become the law of the land," said Masen Davis, Executive Director.

Transgender Law Center has supported efforts to educate lawmakers about the importance of non-discrimination protections since its founding, and some of the stories from legal helpline callers were shared on the Senate floor by Senator Feinstein last week.

Transgender Law Center fully supports the passage of ENDA. However, we join the American Civil Liberties Union, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Lambda Legal in expressing concerns about the religious exemptions in the bill, which could provide religiously affiliated organizations - far beyond houses of worship - with a blank check to engage in employment discrimination against LGBT people.

U.S. Representative and Maine Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Michaud (D)

"As a longtime cosponsor of this legislation, I'm pleased to see such a strong, bipartisan endorsement of ENDA in the Senate. House leadership should follow the Senate's example and move quickly to allow an up or down vote on these important, commonsense protections. Everyone has a right to earn a living, and workers should be judged on the job they do--nothing more, nothing less."

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)

"I congratulate the Senate for confirming our country's commitment to respecting the rights and liberties of all Americans, regardless of who they love. The basic principles of ENDA are so fundamental that 80 percent of Americans already believe it is law, and the Senate today has moved us one step closer to making that a reality. Speaker Boehner now has a choice--stand behind frivolous excuses and remain on the wrong side of history, or join with the majority of the American people and honor the equality deserved by all Americans."

Gregory T. Angelo, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans

After languishing in legislative limbo for 17 years, ENDA has finally passed the United States Senate in a vote that would not have been possible had Republicans not provided the margin of victory on the critical cloture vote earlier in the week.

While many are already beginning to wave the white flag on passage of ENDA in the House, Log Cabin Republicans, has an optimistic view having recently met with nearly 50 House Republicans to make the case that no one should be fired simply because they're gay. We are also encouraged by recent polling that finds a majority of Republicans in the U.S. are in favor of ENDA's passage. The House GOP also just recently overwhelmingly passed legislation that, like ENDA, explicitly includes protections for LGBT individuals - the Violence Against Women Act.

Undoubtedly, the Republican Party is going through a cultural shift as more Republican legislators consistently step up for LGBT Americans. LCR believes this momentum already existing in the Party will help propel this bill to the House floor. Once there, we're confident it will pass. We encourage GOP House leadership of the 113th Congress to allow a conscience vote on ENDA and make history once again.

Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress

"When an LGBT American loses a job because of who they are, America is not living up to its promise. I congratulate the Senate for making America fairer and more just with this historic vote."

Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress

"Today's historic, bipartisan vote is in the best tradition of the Senate and reflects the broad support for workplace protections for LGBT people. Speaker Boehner should listen to the majority of small business owners and Fortune 500 companies that value a diverse workforce and not stand in the way of these long-overdue protections becoming the law of the land."

Maya Rupert, Esq., Policy Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights

"Today's bipartisan victory reflects the overwhelming national consensus that no one should have to face employment discrimination or the fear of being fired simply because of who they are. This vote is historic and signals a sea-change in the fight for workplace equality. It is no longer a question of if LGBT employees will receive federal workplace protections--it is a question of when.

"We are grateful to everyone who has shown leadership on this critical issue, and we are ready to keep fighting. We look forward to continuing to work with Congressional leaders to make sure all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, have basic workplace protections."

Cristina Finch, Managing Director of Women's Human Rights Program, Amnesty International USA

"As U.S. politicians reach across the aisle to ensure federal protection for LGBT individuals, we must also reach outside of our borders and fight for the rights of persecuted people living in Russia who continue to face violence and persecution simply for their sexual and gender identify. Or in Cameroon where people can be arrested, charged, and sentenced for engaging in same sex relationships. The United States government needs to be the global leader on supporting the rights and freedoms of the LGBTI community. Failure to do so increases the risks for LGBTI people, not only in the United States but globally."

Thomas E. Perez. U.S. Secretary of Labor

"The arc of the moral universe bent a little more toward justice today. Protecting the workplace rights of LGBT workers is a moral imperative that is long overdue. We still have a long road ahead of us, but today's historic vote moves us one step closer to a nation that truly embodies its founding principles of equality, opportunity and fairness for all."

Jessica González-Rojas, executive director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

"The Senate passage of ENDA is a historic win for the Latina/o LGBTQ community. For too long, LGBTQ Latinos/as have been denied fair treatment in the workplace. Now, LGBTQ Latinos/as are one step closer to a protection against workplace discrimination.

While we celebrate the progress that has been made, we are deeply concerned by the exemption for religiously affiliated organizations. The exemption undermines the principle of fair treatment, is extremely broad, and would allow a wide range of employers to continue to discriminate against LGBTQ Latinos/as with impunity. This will force many in our community to choose between their paycheck or hiding who they are and who they love. We will continue to work with our community, our colleagues, and policy makers to make sure that all LGBTQ persons, including Latinas/os, are free from workplace discrimination."

Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President of Education and Employment, National Women's Law Center

"Today's historic vote is a huge victory for workers around the country. No one should be denied a job, harassed or fired simply because of who they are or whom they love. We urge the House to do its job and vote on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. These critical workplace protections are long overdue."

Communications Workers of America

"After a nearly four-decade journey, ENDA has finally made it out of the Senate with bipartisan support and creates what no other law currently does: Express protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the workplace.

"CWA has worked to enshrine these protections in our union contracts, so that workers do not have to hide who they are out of fear of losing their jobs and livelihoods. But not everyone has the protection of a strong union contract. Every year, discrimination occurs in many forms, as American workers aren't hired, are fired, do not receive job promotions, or deal with verbal and physical abuse from co-workers and supervisors simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"ENDA is an important step in recognizing that employment decisions should be made on the basis of an individual's ability to perform a job. People that work hard and perform well should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"The bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, businesses and faith communities. It's time to remind our lawmakers of that fact, as the bill moves to the House, where Speaker John Boehner has vowed to kill this critical legislation.

"CWA is proud to stand with our LGBT members and the LGBT community in the fight for full equality for all Americans."

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council (SPLC-Certified Anti-Gay Hate Group)

"We are disappointed the U.S. Senate gave final approval to ENDA, legislation that would increase litigation, diminish religious liberty, and create a new federal mandate on businesses informed by a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. However, we commend those senators who voted against this massive intrusion of the Federal government and also Speaker Boehner for speaking out against ENDA since it will increase litigation costs and cost jobs.

"The vast majority of employers would not consider an employee's sexual orientation relevant or even want to know about an employee's sex life. However, ENDA would transform the workplace into an environment in which certain self-identifications and conduct must be given special privileges by employers and in which any moral or religious expression in opposition would be suppressed.

"Americans should be free to disagree, but ENDA would lead to a form of reverse discrimination. Anyone who expresses or promotes a view of family or morality that can be interpreted to be a disapproval of homosexual or transgender conduct will be subject to retaliation and discrimination. We have already seen numerous examples of this due to state and local laws, so a federal ENDA will increase such discrimination."

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