Noting that in 29 states, "it is still legal to fire workers for being gay," the Sunday New York Times publishes an editorial encouraging support for the fully inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The Times notes that bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Apparently the votes are in the House but not the Senate.
There is reason for cautious optimism. In 2007, the House passed a
nondiscrimination law that did not cover transgender people. The
current Congress is more Democratic, and even in the past two years,
gay rights have made significant strides. As states and localities have
passed antidiscrimination laws, it has been clear that they do not
disrupt the workplace, and they have not resulted in an enormous number
Supporters in the House think they have the votes. The biggest hurdle is likely to be winning the support of 60 senators, the de facto number now required for most legislation because of filibuster rules.
People who believe in workplace fairness should lobby senators to get on board. It is unacceptable that in a nation committed to equality people can still be fired in more than half the states for being gay. Congressional leaders should make passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act a top priority.
The Senate version, S. 1584, was submitted in early August by Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley. The House Education and Labor Committee will hold a full committee hearing on the transgender-inclusive H.R. 3017 on September 23. No ENDA hearing has been scheduled in the Senate yet.
"So, far, besides the original sponsor, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), there are currently 38 co-sponsors of the Senate bill with no new co-sponsors since Congress reconvened," reports Joe Sudbay at Gay AMERICAblog who posts a list of all committed senators. "We need those Senate votes. Reid isn't a cosponsor, but obviously supports the legislation. So, we need at least 20 more Senate votes."