The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban workplace bias based on sexual orientation and gender discrimination, has a chance of becoming law by the end of 2009, according to Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., its lead sponsor in the Senate. The measure was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday with 38 co-sponsors, including Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.; Olympia Snowe, R-Maine; and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is the chief sponsor of the House version, which was introduced in June.
“The promise of America will never be fulfilled as long as justice is denied to even one among us,” Senator Kennedy said in a statement. “The Employment Non-Discrimination Act brings us closer to fulfilling that promise for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens. I’m proud to join Senators Merkley, Collins and Snowe in introducing this important legislation.”
Both versions of the bill have been reworked, adding back transgender protections removed from last year’s bill. Gay rights groups warned politicos last year that they would not support a gay-only protections bill.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, hailed the bipartisan, historic introduction of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the U.S. Senate.
“The introduction of an inclusive employment non-discrimination bill in the U.S. Senate is an important and historic step in ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “No American, and that includes LGBT Americans, should have to worry about their livelihood being taken away from them simply for being who they are. The overwhelming majority of the American people are in favor of this legislation and now is the time for our community to visit their representatives in Congress to let them know we need this passed into law.”