House Speaker John Boehner hasn't "thought much about" the proposed Employment Nondiscrimination Act and claims that "ample laws" protect gay and transgender employees from discrimination, reports Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade.
Although the administration insists it will work with Congress to pass legislation in lieu of an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers, Boehner seemed unaware of ENDA in response to a question from the Washington Blade, saying, “I haven’t seen the bill. I haven’t thought much about it.”
Asked whether passage of ENDA might alleviate the 8.2 percent unemployment rate if employers were barred from firing LGBT workers, Boehner said “ample laws” are in place and deferred further comment to the House Committee on Education & the Workforce. The committee didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
"No one should face discrimination in the workforce," Boehner said. "There are ample laws already in place to deal with this. Having been the chairman of the Education & Workforce Committee, I’m quite familiar with employment law. But if there are further changes that are necessary, I’m sure the committee will look at it."
Even if Boehner were to bring the bill to a vote, it is unlikely to pass the House where Republican lawmakers hold the majority. ENDA has 161 co-sponsors in the House, far short of the 218 votes that would be needed for passage.
Currently there are no federal laws or regulations that bar employers from firing workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is perfectly legal to fire or discriminate against someone because they are gay in 29 states. It is also legal to fire or discriminate against someone because they are transgender is legal in 34 states.
"If the speaker is so familiar with employment law he should know it’s perfectly legal to fire LGBT people in most states," Human Rights Campaign spokesman Michael Cole-Schwartz said. "This attitude is precisely why we need congressional hearings on an inclusive ENDA so the costs of employment discrimination are put on full display."
Last week, the Obama Administration announced that it would not sign off on a proposed executive order that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors.