Thursday, August 01, 2013

Americans for Workplace Opportunity Launches To Pass ENDA

Good news today on the campaign to end employment discrimination against LGBT people in the United States! A huge coalition of groups has launched a group called Americans for Workplace Opportunity as part of a $2 million campaign to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through Congress.

The Washington Post reports:
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 17 of those states and the District extend that protection to gender identity. Such policies have also become common in major companies: 88 percent of Fortune 500 include protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual employees, and more than half have safeguards for transgender employees. 
Until recently the push for workplace protections has been overshadowed by the battle over gay marriage. But on July 10 the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved anti-discrimination bill by a bipartisan vote of 15 to 7, providing fresh momentum to the initiative.
The coalition, which also includes the American Civil Liberties Union, American Federation of Teachers, National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, will focus on senators in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. With the exception of Democrats Mark Pryor (Ark.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), all the targeted senators are Republican.
The campaign will be managed by Matt McTighe, who managed the successful campaign to win marriage equality in Maine last November. The Steering Committee of Americans for Workplace Opportunity includes familiar organizational names like American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Federation of Teachers, American Unity Fund, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Amazingly, there are still three Democratic U.S. Senators who refuse to say whether they support prohibiting workplace discrimination against LGBT people: Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Mark Pryor (D-AR).

What's bizarre about this trio of Democratic Senator holdouts on ENDA is that one of them, Sen. Nelson, supports marriage equality and is representing a blue state (albeit one that has a very red legislature which has not passed a state LGBT rights bill).

Of course, even if ENDA gets 60 votes and passes the Senate, it is not very clear at all that it has the ghost of a chance of passing the U.S. House. The legislative body led by House Speaker John Boehner has passed just 15 bills which have become law so far in the 113th Congress. That is on pace to be the least productive session of Congress ever. Some form of a federal gay rights bill has been languishing in Congress since 1973, so history is not on our side, but the future is!

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin