House OKs Ban on Homosexual Discrimination; Extends Workplace Protection
Byline: Sean Lengell, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The House yesterday passed its first ban on discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace, approving a bill that extends protections similar to those based on race, sex, religion and disability.
Supporters hail the measure as a landmark civil rights advance, while critics say the bill would create vague, undefined protections that would lead to costly litigation.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed 235-184. Thirty-five Republicans supported the measure, while 25 Democrats voted against the measure. It will now head to the Senate, where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, is expected to sponsor a similar version.
"Even in 2007, there is little doubt that gay and lesbian Americans are too often the object of discrimination," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. "This legislation is consistent with our values, our ideals and America's long history of social progress."
President Bush is expected to veto the measure, citing constitutional concerns.
Critics of the legislation contend it could make employers liable for their perception of an employee's sexual orientation, with virtually no way to disprove the accusation of what an employer did or didn't perceive.
"The structure of the bill before us today is eerily similar to legislation we've seen from this majority all year: a favorable, purposefully misleading title applied to a bill that's poorly assembled and oblivious to its own consequences," said House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican. …