Bill to Ban Workforce Sexual Bias Passes Senate Test; Would Protect Gay, Transgender People
Byline: Jacqueline Klimas, The Washington Times
The Senate on Monday cleared a procedural hurdle on a bill that aims to end workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, setting up a final vote on the measure, which faces an uphill battle in the House.
Supporters of the proposal said it would provide necessary legal protections for gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in much the same fashion that the Civil Rights Act shielded workers from discrimination based on race, gender, religion or disability.
Before the vote, President Obama urged lawmakers to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, saying it is long overdue.
Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done, Mr. Obama wrote on Huffingtonpost.com. Does it make a difference if the firefighter who rescues you is gay - or the accountant who does your taxes or the mechanic who fixes your car?
Six Republicans joined with every member of the Democratic caucus in a 61-30 vote, opening the door for the Senate to hold an up-or-down vote on the bill, which could happen before the end of the week.
The bill got a boost Monday after Sen. Dean Heller, Nevada Republican, announced his support, giving it the 60 votes needed for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, to move the bill forward.
Minutes later, though, House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, came out against the proposal, signaling that the bill is dead on arrival in the House
The speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs, said Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman.
White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed Mr. Boehner's criticism, saying the position he took sounds familiar to the opposition to almost all civil rights measures that have come and been passed into law in this country over the years. That opposition was wrong then and it is wrong now, Mr. Carney told reporters at the daily press briefing.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books that protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Of those, 17 states and the District have laws protecting workers from both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. …