The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA) is one step closer to a vote on the Senate floor. Today, it passed a crucial Senate committee. Whether or not ENDA will survive in the House is another matter all together.
ENDA would prohibit workplace discrimination against people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Senator Tammy Baldwin stated about the vote that “I am proud to join a bipartisan effort that today advanced our founding belief that all Americans are created equal under the law. Together, we believe that everyone deserves a fair shot at the American Dream and that our LGBT family members, friends, and neighbors deserve to be treated like everyone else in the United States. This legislation is a reflection of our commitment to ending discrimination against our fellow citizens simply because of who they love. Every American deserves the freedom to work free of discrimination. I am hopeful and optimistic that we can now move this legislation forward to build a tomorrow that is more equal, not less, for all Americans.”
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions passed the bill 15 to 7 with all Democrats and three Republicans voting for it. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) being the only Republicans to vote in favor of it. Unsurprisingly, Republican Senators Lamar Alexander, Mike Enzi, Richard Burr, Johnny Isakson, Rand Paul, Pat Roberts and Tim Scott all voted against it.
Earlier in the week, Murkowski announced her support for the bill in committee saying “I am a strong believer that individuals should be judged on whether they can do the job, not their sexual orientation. Improvements might be in order in the form of floor amendments, but discrimination should never be tolerated in the workplace.”
The committee spent mere moments discussing the bill before passing it. Chairman Tom Harkin hopes that the bill will go before the Senate this fall. He also said “Today is a great day for the committee, and a good day for all of Americans.”
The White House issued a statement saying that “The President has long supported an inclusive ENDA, which would enshrine into law strong, lasting and comprehensive protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We look forward to the full Senate’s consideration of ENDA, and continue to urge the House to move forward on this bill that upholds America’s core values of fairness and equality.”