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Stopping anti-gay and transgender job discrimination with a federal law has been on the agenda of LGBT groups and some members of Congress for nearly 20 years. On Thursday, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 was once again introduced with bipartisan support to accomplish that taks. It was the ninth time ENDA has been introduced in Congress since 1994.

That this protection was not long ago passed into law is especially infuriating given the obvious and frequently devastating unfairness of the current situation in which employers have a free hand to discriminate against gays, lesbians and transgenders. The failure is not a matter of having to buck the public. Polls, including this one consistently have shown a majority of Americans favor shielding LGBTs from job discrimination. But one problem is that nine of out 10 Americans in that same survey mistakenly believe that protecting gays and transgenders from workplace discrimination is already federal law. Most did not know whether their state has such a law.

In fact, 29 states have no laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, and in 34 states have none that do so based on gender identity. Results? LGBT people face discrimination on the jobs, including being fired, denied promotions and being harassed without recourse. And there is plenty of evidence that the nation is awash in such discrimination.

The federal legislation would end most public and private employers from discriminating against workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill was introduced this time around in the Senate by Democrats Jeff Merkley of Oregon (a long-time backer of ENDA), Tom Harkin of Iowa and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin together with Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois. In the House, the sponsors are Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida:

“Across our country, LGBT Americans face the daily fear of losing their jobs and livelihood simply because of who they are or who they love,” Polis said. “Dedicated individuals should be judged based on their work, nothing more and nothing less. I am proud to reintroduce the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with Representative Ros-Lehtinen and so many of our colleagues in the House of Representatives. We will work together to see the federal workplace protections in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed into law.” [...]

“Discrimination is just plain wrong.  It is shocking that there is still anywhere in America where it is legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Merkley said. “Americans understand that it’s time to make sure our LGBT friends and family are treated fairly and have the same opportunities as all Americans.  Now it’s time for our laws to catch up.  People should be judged at work on their ability to do the job, period.”

Businesses with fewer than 15 employees are exempt from the bill's provisions. And so are organizations that are already exempt from Title VII’s prohibition on religious discrimination.

Please read more about ENDA below the fold.

While human rights and civil rights organizations have expressed approval of the overall legislation just for being common-sense justice, the religious exemption has raised some hackles. Previously, conservative critics of ENDA said the religious exemption didn't go far enough. Now some critics on the other side say it goes too far.

Justin Snow writes that the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Transgender Law Center released a statement on the matter Thursday:

"It could provide religiously affiliated organizations—far beyond houses of worship—with a blank check to engage in employment discrimination against LGBT people," the groups argue. [...]

"It gives a stamp of legitimacy to LGBT discrimination that our civil rights laws have never given to discrimination based on an individual’s race, sex, national origin, age, or disability," the four progressive organizations wrote, adding that the exemption could, for example, allow hospitals and universities with any religious affiliation to discriminate.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that "the administration will continue to work to build support for this important legislation because we believe that this is the right way, the right approach to take, because it is inclusive and that’s why we supported it then, that’s why we’re glad to see it being reintroduced."

But, while LGBT activists say they appreciate President Obama's stance favoring ENDA, they would like to see him take a more active role in getting the legislation passed, something they say he has not done previously.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 08:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by LGBT Kos Community, Milk Men And Women, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the update, MB. (8+ / 0-)

    Republished to LGBT Kos Community.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 08:19:46 AM PDT

  •  I Guess I Am Stupid (3+ / 0-)

    sure you can be fired for being gay. Different. I didn't know it was "legal" in so many states. I worked my entire adult life in a profession where there were a lot of gay folks.

    It was just the way it was.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 08:25:34 AM PDT

  •  I feel a Daily Kos campaign coming on ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, Eric Nelson

    Great work MB.

  •  Now we need a reintroduction of EFCA to get (4+ / 0-)

    a setr of bookEnds.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 09:13:02 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, MB (4+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately this is the same version from last year, but my understanding is that they intend to make it more trans-friendly in the mark-up session -- IF it gets there.

    Republished to Milk Men and Women.

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Columbine, Tuscon, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Boston (h/t Charles Pierce)

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:15:22 AM PDT

  •  So sick of this religious exemption. (9+ / 0-)

    Once again, it's placing the government's stamp of approval on discrimination against LGBTs.  The Supreme Court has made clear that religion is no excuse for racial discrimination, and it shouldn't be an excuse for sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, either.  

    Permitting religious organizations to continue to discriminate places Congress's imprimatur on the idea that we LGBTs are so different from everyone else and so repugnant to "moral values" that the law doesn't have to protect us from discrimination.  In other words, the religious exemption essentially concedes the validity of these so-called "moral" objections to LGBT rights (and indeed LGBT people in general).

    I really wish the folks in DC would stop cowering in fear before a bunch of old men in purple dresses and clerical collars and start thinking about LGBT constituents who need some minimal job security, not to mention women who need access to reproductive health care.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:37:09 AM PDT

    •  Flamer (0+ / 0-)

      This crying "persecution" at every turn equates to nothing less than keeping the flames of cultural wars amongst politicains's constituents alive whilst ripping them off financially right in front of their faces. In return for standing up for jesus, the flock showers them with donations and a vote.

      Meanwhile, these poor, persecuted souls will run to their multi million $ media outlets and ask for donations to fund against evildoers.

      Still, this is my life and the life of many people I know who continue to be used as scape goats for their made up morality. It's wrong.

      Strange but not a stranger.

      by jnww on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 03:56:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Religious exemptions are constitutionally mandated (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SpamNunn, Gygaxian

      I think. And I'm ok with that, if they are limited to religious institutions that are based on the values of that particular religion.    

      The First Amendment's "free exercise" clause gives religions the constitutional right to religious beliefs that you or I may find abhorrent. In an institution with a specific religious identity, a religion should not be forced to hire someone who openly violates their fundamental religious beliefs.  

      We don't have a right to go into another religion and demand that they allow violations of their religion.  

      Frankly, I don't know why a person would want to work in a place where they fundamentally disagree with everything that institution stands for.

      •  Bob Jones University? (0+ / 0-)

        Maybe you missed that case.  

        "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

        by FogCityJohn on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:22:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe you missed Hosanna-Tabor (0+ / 0-)

          it's more recent than Bob Jones.

          And Bob Jones was a denial of tax exempt status case addressing an IRS revenue ruling from the case:

          The revised policy on discrimination was formalized in Revenue Ruling 71-447, 1971-2 Cum.Bull. 230:

          Both the courts and the Internal Revenue Service have long recognized that the statutory requirement of being "organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, . . . or educational purposes" was intended to express the basic common law concept [of "charity"]. . . . All charitable trusts, educational or otherwise, are subject to the requirement that the purpose of the trust may not be illegal or contrary to public policy.

          Based on the "national policy to discourage racial discrimination in education," the IRS ruled that

          a [private] school not having a racially nondiscriminatory policy as to students is not 'charitable' within the common law concepts reflected in sections 170 and 501(c)(3) of the Code.

          and in Bob Jones, it was about this compelling government interest:  
          The governmental interest at stake here is compelling. As discussed in Part II-B, supra, the Government has a fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education [n29] -- discrimination that prevailed, with official approval, for the first 165 years of this Nation's constitutional history. That governmental interest substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on petitioners' exercise of their religious beliefs. The interests asserted by petitioners cannot be accommodated with that compelling governmental interest, see United States v. Lee, supra, at 259-260; and no "less restrictive means," see Thomas v. Review Board of Indiana Employment Security Div., supra, at 718, are available to achieve the governmental interest
          That was enough to justify an IRS rule excluding schools that discriminate from the definition of "charitable institution" under 501(c)(3).  
          •  Wait. We've had this discussion before. (0+ / 0-)

            Now I remember.  You defended racism, so long as the racist claimed his or her bigotry was based in religion.  So I guess I really shouldn't be surprised that you'd defend homophobia, when that homophobia also claims a basis in religion.

            So that's where we part company.  I can't and won't defend bigotry, even if those practicing it claim divine inspiration.  

            "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

            by FogCityJohn on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:48:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  But what about Hobby Lobby and other buisnesses (0+ / 0-)

        that clame to be "religious based"?  If you allow an exemption for say, Catholic Charities then how can you not allow one for Hobby Lobby as well?  Remember, Hobby Lobby has already won in appellate court on that matter.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:55:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think that it depends on (0+ / 0-)

          what kind of law you are talking about.  For example, the Bob Jones case revolved around whether a school qualified as tax exempt for purposes of 501(c)(3), and an IRS rule excluding schools that discriminate from the exemption in that IRS section.  I think that the government has more leeway there.  On the other hand, if, for example, a Catholic school hires teachers to be Catholic role models for children, and that's part of their job contracts, then I think a school can fire a teacher, for example, who openly lives with a heterosexual partner outside of marriage, because it so clearly violates that teaching and because having that teacher there undermines the religious mission of that institution.  I also think there's a difference between an institution that is OWNED by a church, and an institution that is owned by individuals who adhere to certain religious beliefs.  

          And, frankly, the Hobby Lobby thing really does present a unique issue -- can the government require person 1 to pay for person 2 to do something that violates person 1's religious beliefs?  It will be interesting to see what the SCOTUS does with that.

          •  However, such an anti-discriminaton law is pretty (0+ / 0-)

            much the same thing.  Can person 1 (Hobby Lobby) be required to pay for person 2 (by hiring and playing the gay employee's salary)  to do something that violates person 1's religious beliefs (live a "gay lifestyle").  Oh, and if hobby lobby wins then the same argument would apply to existing anti-discrimination laws based on race as well.

            You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 06:15:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  you're making a mistake (0+ / 0-)

            The law doesn't "require person 1 to pay for person 2 to do something that violates person 1's religious beliefs." The law requires person 1 to pay person 2 to do her/his job. What that person does outside of the job is irrelevant to the contract.

            The bosses of Hobby Lobby can refuse to hire someone who is unable to sell toys. They shouldn't be allowed to fire (or not hire) someone because the bosses don't like the kind of marriage that person has, or the color house that person lives in, or whatever.

    •  Same with women (3+ / 0-)

      the religious exemptions for providing reproductive health care access and contraceptions  is just disgusting. Jeeze the religious nuts should not have power in a secular democracy. They also need to lose their exemptions for taxes. They wield way too much power in our government and society.

  •  That's so fucking embarassing (3+ / 0-)

    I feel ill.

    It's 2013. This shit has to stop.

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 03:46:42 PM PDT

    •  That said, (0+ / 0-)

      I have to admit that I was happy to see that Nevada wasn't on the list, but I wouldn't have been shocked if it was. I've been here closing on a decade, and its a confounding mix of reactionary and progressive randomness.

      I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      by LeftHandedMan on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 03:51:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One comment: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayjaybear, SpamNunn, catsynth, sjburnman

    "Transgender" is an adjective, not a noun. Transgender people is vastly preferred to "transgenders".

  •  Stunning to see all the red (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm in my own New England bubble sometimes and forget there's insanity outside my enclave.  Included in my enclave are religious communities (male and female) who are not hateful bigots.

    I used to think certain folks were just ignorant re: their bigotry -- I now believe I am mostly wrong -- they are hateful and never read the Sermon on the Mount.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:00:31 PM PDT

  •  Another reason to have a strong rural (0+ / 0-)

    Democratic Party: to prevent stupidity like this from ever becoming law. I know I keep harping on this, but look at that map, the Democratic establishment has to understand that the path of change goes through rural America.

  •  In most states, as an at will employee, you can (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    be fired without cause, or just because they don't like your haircut.  You can't be fired, however, for an improper reason, like being a member of a protected class.   The hard part is proving motivation for your termination.   Even if the law changes, it won't make that much difference, unless the employer is really stupid.  

    The patellar reflex is a deep tendon reflex which allows one to keep one's balance with little effort or conscious thought.

    by SpamNunn on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:10:28 PM PDT

    •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
      Even if the law changes, it won't make that much difference, unless the employer is really stupid.  
      As we've seen, such as in the recent case where a Washington State florist refused to provide flowers for a gay couple's wedding and where a B&B owner in Hawai'i  refused to provide accommodations for a lesbian couple, there are enough stupid employers, landlords, business owners and what-have-you around that cases can and will be won.

      There is no way to guarantee that NO discrimination based on sexual orientation will EVER AGAIN take place if this law passes any more than racial discrimination died as soon as the civil rights laws of the 1960's were passed. That doesn't mean we should shrug our shoulders and do nothing.

    •  Experience has proved your wrong. (3+ / 0-)

      There are untold numbers of employment discrimination cases in which the employer's motive for the adverse action has to be proved inferentially.  So you don't need a "really stupid" employer to succeed in one of these suits.  You just need evidence of disparate treatment based on the protected characteristic.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:32:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It would be nice for everyone if our civilization (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Very Long Range, TheUnknown285

    got with the 21st century, that, yunno ... should have happened centuries ago.

    rabble rabble rabble

    by jwinIL14 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:15:19 PM PDT

  •  Why wasn't ENDA passed in 2009 or 2010? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When Democrats had unified government?  And I if your answer is "Republican obstructionism," then save your time.  The Republicans wouldn't have been able to obstruct shit had they not be allowed to and not been actively helped.

  •  You can be fired for being straight, too (0+ / 0-)

    I honestly believe activists should emphasize that in these states if you have a gay supervisor and they want to fire you simply because you are straight, that is totally legal, too.

    I bet a lot of people in those states would be OUTRAGED at the thought of this!

  •  My take on the map is that Red equals. . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . .stupid.  Stupidity aside, there is no. . .No, stupidity not aside. It is stupid. I just don't get the bias.

    If we are going to elect Democrats, lets elect real ones!

    by waztec on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:47:18 PM PDT

  •  I worked for Avis car rental in the 90s (0+ / 0-)

    and the people I worked with conspired to get our boss fired for being gay.  I really liked everyone until they did that.  I didn't go along with them, cause I thought it was terrible.  I honestly couldn't understand what his being gay had to do with anything and I still thought there was something wrong with being gay back then.  I quit that job before they succeeded, but they did succeed.

  •  I think this is the next step, after marriage (0+ / 0-)

    equality and DOMA. Re marriage equality, public opinion has already shifted but the laws have not kept pace. The step after that is repealing DOMA, which mandates discrimination against federal employees who are gay. Again I think the public is there but the Congress isn't yet. Adding protection of LGBT people to Title VII is logical and necessary but I think that is the next hurdle after we have gotten mandatory discrimination currently enshrined in law removed.

  •  Yet another reason why "Right to Work" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheUnknown285, shaharazade

    is so abhorrent.

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 04:53:17 PM PDT

    •  What does this have to do with whether or not (0+ / 0-)

      employees who aren't union members but work for an employer covered by a collective bargaining agreement can be required to pay the union a "fair share" few to cover the costs of negotiation, grievance handling, etc.?

      Writing in all lower-case letters should be a capital offense

      by ebohlman on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 08:57:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So proud that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    not only my home state and the state I now call home are states where one cannot be fired for being gay, but that the whole region is. Yay northeastern US!!

    Also, marriage equality stretches from NY to ME, thanks to RI! I am so proud and happy.

  •  Utah Dems are trying very hard (0+ / 0-)

    For our own statewide non-discrimination policy. We actually got it to the floor of the legislature this time, but the Republicans tabled it. Still, it's farther than it's gone before, and more and more Utah Republicans are moving to support anti-discrimination policy, so it looks good moving ahead. The state Dem Party Chair state Senator Jim Dabakis has been very influential and very passionate on this.

    And I expect 2014 to end with Salt Lake County having a county-wide non-discrimination policy enacted. Mayor Ben McAdams has been very good on this.

    Just my two cents from Utah.

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 09:56:08 PM PDT

  •  And yet another reason that (0+ / 0-)

    Alaska and Hawaii should not be grouped together .

    Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11 + Trusted Users have a responsibility to police the general tenor... Hunter 5/26/06

    by indycam on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 10:13:04 PM PDT

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