The Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the House of Representatives today by a vote of 235 to 184. A companion bill, which will protect gay men and lesbians from workplace discrimination, is awaiting introduction in the Senate.
"The House passage of ENDA is a historic step forward for equal rights under law," said Tanya Clay House, Director of Public Policy at People For the American Way. "Nobody in America should get fired for being gay, and it's merit, not sexual orientation, that should decide who gets hired in the first place."
PFAW activists have been engaged in the 25-year campaign by civil rights and equality advocates to pass anti-discrimination legislation. In recent months, PFAW was an active partner in a broad grassroots mobilization to win passage of an ENDA that included protections against discrimination based on gender identity. That intensive coalition effort was not successful in winning inclusion of gender identity protections in the House bill, but the organizing effort built a strong foundation for progress on broader antidiscrimination protections. House pledged that PFAW would continue to work for a bill that protects transgender Americans.
"Americans support fairness and equality for all people," said House. "It's time that Congress caught up with the American people and passes an inclusive ENDA."
In most states, it is currently legal for employers to fire someone because of his or her sexual orientation, or to refuse to hire that person in the first place, despite the basic unfairness of such practices. The bill passed by the House would prohibit employers from discriminating against their employees and job applicants in hiring, firing, promoting and compensation based on sexual orientation. Polls show that a clear majority of Americans supports laws against discrimination on the job.