Discrimination is an ugly word in today’s society. For most oppressed groups, there are laws in place to protect minorities from discrimination at work. Well, almost all minorities. Historically, the LGBTQ community has been denied the right of workplace equality. Now, a bill is travelling through Congress that aims to change all that.
The federal Employee Non-Discrimination Act (or ENDA for short) is coming to save the day. The ENDA states, in no uncertain terms, that any person can file a case due to unfair discrimination on account of sexuality or gender identity. Similarly to other civil rights bills, the ENDA would also prevent hiring discrimination by employers, getting rid of the need for prospective workers to stay ‘in the closet’. Coming on the heels of the strike-down of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the dissolution of DOMA, the bill would seem assured to pass. However, this is one bill that was a long, rocky history in Congress, and the past might repeat itself once again.
ENDA was first officially introduced in 1994. Since then, it has been submitted to Congress 10 times; only once did ENDA pass one house of Congress. Now, the Senate has passed the bill on with a 64-32 vote. Sounds good, right? Well, it might not be so easy; the bill will face heavy resistance in the House from Republicans, led by the GOP-in-chief, John Boehner. The Speaker of the House has been quoted as saying that ENDA would “cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” and that it would “increase frivolous litigation.”
Unfortunately for Boehner, his own party isn’t backing him. In a recent poll, 56 percent of Republicans said that they would support the enactment of ENDA, including one group that has very seldom supported gay rights: the Mormon Church. Yes folks, that’s right, even the Church of LDS is throwing its weight behind this bill. Still, Boehner refuses to endorse the bill, claiming that members of the LGBTQ community already have federal protection under the law, though he neglects to mention which law that is.
“They have to pass the bill! All the liberal organizations support it! What is the Republican party doing?” says Jesse Mcmilin of SLV. Jesse’s sentiment is expressed by almost the entire student population of SLV, by both liberals and conservatives alike across the country, even by the Church of Latter Day Saints. This move by Boehner, coming on the heels of an 18 day government shutdown, bodes ill for the GOP. If the Republican Party cannot find a firm handhold on social issues, they will have no chance of defeating Hillary Clinton in the upcoming Presidential Election.
Some Republicans are taking the initiative, however. Among them is Paul Singer, one of the chief donators to Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. He came out in full support of ENDA just a few weeks ago, and has been actively decrying the Republican’s opposition. It is also worth noting that Singer’s son and son-in-law are happily married gay men; yet, he is still Republican. And why shouldn’t he be? Stories are emerging from around the nation telling of conservatives coming over to the side of equality after finding out that the LGBTQ community is not some distant threat; it is their sons, their daughters, their neighbors, their partners, themselves. With the support of all these allies, ENDA stands little chance of failing.
For that reason, John Boehner has stopped the House from voting on the bill, at least for the moment. Hopefully though, he will be overruled soon, and the ENDA will pass into law; then, there will be workplace equality. Come on people, let’s make discrimination a thing of the past.