By Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSWIt has been nearly 20 years in the making, but last night ENDA (S. 815/ HR 1755) passed the United States Senate by a vote of 64/32. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was first introduced in back in 1994, and it still still needs to be passed by the House before becoming law. If enacted, the legislation would make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on the workers sexual orientation or gender identity.
Currently 17 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Four states have laws that protect workers based on sexual orientation (source). After Yesterday’s victory, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) called on colleagues in the state legislature to once again take up the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).
In 2002 New York passed the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) which provides protection to Lesbian, gay and bisexual employees but does not cover gender identity or expression. Not only would GENDA correct this oversight it would also extend protection to transgender people under the states hate crime law (source).
Following the Senates ENDA vote many congress members took to Twitter to encourage House Speaker John Boehner to bring ENDA to a vote.
Senator Debbie Wasserman Schultz tweeted “Thrilled with my colleagues in the Senate. Now it’s our turn. Do what’s right @JohnBoehner. Give us a vote to #PassENDA!”
Representative Jim Himes tweeted “Bravo to the Senate for passing ENDA with bipartisan support. Time for the House to do the same #passENDA”
The Human Rights Campaign has a breakdown of how senators voted here. You can help bring ENDA to a vote in the House by contacting your congressman and asking them to support the bill. To find your representative’s contact information visit .
photo credit: Kevin Goebel via photopin cc
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