WASHINGTON — The White House issued a statement Thursday from President Barack Obama, just moments after the U.S. Senate approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), urging House leaders to pass the measure.
“For more than two centuries, the story of our nation has been the story of more citizens realizing the rights and freedoms that are our birthright as Americans. Today, a bipartisan majority in the Senate took another important step in this journey by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would help end the injustice of our fellow Americans being denied a job or fired just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.”
“Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago. In particular, I thank Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Harkin, Senators Merkley and Collins for their leadership, and Senator Kirk for speaking so eloquently in support of this legislation. Now it’s up to the House of Representatives. This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities. They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.”
“One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do. Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it. I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law. On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans.”
The bill — which would bar employers with 15 or more workers from using a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for making employment decisions, including hiring, firing, compensation or promotion — faces strong GOP opposition in the House, particularly among the tea party caucus.
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Political observers are doubtful the measure will be allowed to come to the House floor for a vote due to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) opposition to the law. Earlier this week the Speaker labeled the measure “unnecessary and certain to create costly, frivolous lawsuits for businesses.”
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LGBt right advocates are calling on the president to sign an executive order in the interim barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees.