Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) has signed on to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as a co-sponsor. The bill would expand workplace protections to LGBT people throughout the United States. The bill faces an uncertain future in the House of Representatives, but currently has 49 sponsors in the Senate.
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the bill again to the Senate, this time on 25 April. Heitkamp placed her name on the bill as a co-sponsor without any fanfare quietly adding her name on 7 June.
Currently, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill) are the only Republicans to sign on to the legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated that he expects that the upper chamber will take up ENDA in the near future, possibly after the 4 July recess.
Merkley’s spokesman Jamal Raad said about Heitkamp’s sponsorship of the bill that “Support for ENDA is growing. It has more cosponsors than ever before, and senators who have never cosponsored before are signing on this time around. The time is now for the Senate to end LGBT employment discrimination. Senator Merkley thanks Leader Reid for committing to move ENDA forward soon and for his leadership on LGBT issues.”
Several LGBT activists have been trying to get President Barack Obama to sign an executive order barring discrimination against LGBT people by federal contractors. Obama has, so far, refused to do so without explaining that there is an executive order that is still in effect barring that form of discrimination; however, it has proven hard to enforce. That executive order dates back to the Clinton Administration.