More than a third of US Senators have urged President Barack Obama to bypass Congress and issue an executive order making it illegal for any employer to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. In a letter dated 14 February, the Senators wrote, in part:
“[Y]ou are in a position to protect millions of American workers immediately by including sexual orientation and gender identity alongside long-standing anti-discrimination protections.
“As you know, ENDA would prohibit most workplaces in the United States from discriminating against potential and existing employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. From our perspective, ENDA’s premise is simple: it would make federal law reflect the basic principle that Americans should be judged on their skills and abilities in the workplace, and not on irrelevant factors such as their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The plea was spearheaded by Senator Jeff Merkley, but was also sponsored by a large portion of the Democratic leadership including Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, and Patty Murray. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has languished in Congress for the last several sessions largely due to the Republican’s unwillingness to go against their tiny base.