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04/19/2007


Is Obama Considering Executive Action Banning LGBT Discrimination in the Workplace?

Business Insider points out that Obama is set to make a "pivot" in his State of the Union address tomorrow night:

B_obamaSenior White House advisers have laid out the key themes of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night — income inequality, job growth, and helping the long-term unemployed in a still-stagnating economy.

But perhaps the most important part of Obama's speech will be a more forceful outline than ever of how he plans to address those and other items on his agenda. He will say how he plans to get things done himself if Congress won't work with him — through executive action, or, as he and his advisers like to put it, through a "pen and a phone."

For the White House, it's a "year of action."

Currently, people can still be fired for being gay in 29 states. LGBT advocates have long been pushing for an executive order since legislation that would forbid anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace (ENDA) has been stagnating in Congress for years, and isn't going anywhere fast.

Although the Senate passed ENDA in November, House Speaker John Boehner refuses to bring it up for a vote. That month, Boehner reiterated his assertion that there is no need for such legislation and it would be the basis for "frivolous lawsuits."

President Obama has expressed his frustration over House obstruction of ENDA, saying, following the Senate vote:

"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."

It seems that ENDA would fit nicely in the President's "year of action" agenda.

Will we see a nod toward it in tomorrow night's State of the Union address, with NBA player Jason Collins sitting in the box with the First Lady? Wait and see.


Apple CEO Tim Cook: We Must End Anti-LGBT Discrimination and Pass ENDA — VIDEO

Tim_cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook accepted Auburn University's Lifetime Achievement Award from the College of Human Sciences on December 10. In his speech, Cook spoke about the values that guide Apple and that guide him personally - his belief in putting an end to racism upholding equality and eliminating anti-LGBT discrimination, and achieving justice in immigration reform.

Cook also said it is time to pass ENDA:

"These values have also recently guided us to support legislation that demands equality and nondiscrimination for all employees regardless of who they love. This legislation, known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I have long believed in this and Apple has implemented protections for employees even when the laws did not. Now is the time to write these basic principles of human dignity into the book of law."

Watch his full speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Apple CEO Tim Cook: We Must End Anti-LGBT Discrimination and Pass ENDA — VIDEO" »


Congressional Hispanic Caucus Votes to Endorse ENDA

A resolution proposed by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was approved by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday. The Washington Blade reports:

Rep. Linda SanchezIn a statement, Sanchez, vice chair of the caucus, called ENDA "an important, long overdue civil rights law."

"Equality shouldn't wait," Sanchez said. "We need to break down the barriers of intolerance and bigotry that have kept too many talented people out of the workplace. The vast majority of Americans believe that job performance is what should determine whether you get hired, fired or promoted. It's time for the House to pass ENDA and end workplace discrimination."

House aides said two-thirds of the caucus voted to endorse ENDA, but wouldn't disclose the way each of the 26 members of the caucus voted. According to aides, a majority vote is necessary for approval.

Freedom to Work, the only LGBT advocacy organization working exclusively to end anti-gay employment discrimination, praised the caucus's decision. Said president Tico Almeida:

"Freedom to Work applauds the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for its tremendous support for LGBT workplace fairness, and especially Rep. Linda Sanchez with whom we worked on the recent ENDA field hearing in Los Angeles to delve into the findings of the 'Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color' report by the Movement Advancement Project and a coalition of civil rights organizations," Almeida said.

ENDA received bipartisan approval in the Senate earlier this month and, more recently, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers urged Speaker John Boehner to allow a floor vote for ENDA. Boehner, however, remains stubbornly unwilling to allow the vote to take place, saying that "people are already protected in the workplace" and that ENDA would result in frivolous lawsuits.


Scott Walker Says Gay Marriage Ban is Part of 'a Healthy Balance' of Anti-Bias Laws in Wisconsin: VIDEO

Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke with Bloomberg TV host Al Hunt about LGBT rights in his state, specifically anti-discrimination laws. While Walker suggested he supported ENDA because anti-discrimination laws covering sexual orientation have worked "quite effectively" in his state, he also defended the state's ban on same-sex marriage, calling it part of a "healthy" system.

Said Walker: "In Wisconsin, we’ve had anti-discriminatory laws that are very similar to [ENDA] for more than 30 years and they work quite effectively. We’re also a state that has a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as one man and one woman…I mean, we’ve not had problems. We’ve had no problems — I should say, limited problems — with [anti-discrimination laws]. At the same time, we still have a constitutional amendment that defines marriage. There’s a healthy balance there.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

(via think progress)

Continue reading "Scott Walker Says Gay Marriage Ban is Part of 'a Healthy Balance' of Anti-Bias Laws in Wisconsin: VIDEO" »


Report: Majority in Every Congressional District Supports Law Against Anti-Gay Employment Discrimination

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 2.00.36 PM

In a historic 64-32 vote, the Senate this month approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban discrimination in hiring and firing based on sexual orientation or gender identity, sending the bill to the House, where it's destined to languish--at least as long as John Boehner is Speaker of the House.

But a new report from the Williams Institute--a legal research and policy think tank at UCLA Law School--demonstrates that if House members voted according to their constituencies' beliefs, ENDA might very well pass unanimously:

A majority of Americans in every U.S. congressional district support laws that protect against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, such as the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed last week by the U.S. Senate . . .

When a similar bill was considered in 2007, 183 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted against it, even though a majority of their constituents supported the policy. The current ENDA now awaits consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, and research confirms that ENDA would pass if all members followed their constituents.

A very interesting interactive graphic comparing 2007 to 2013 can be found HERE on the Williams Institute's website.

One rather big caveat worth mentioning in terms of the Williams Institute report: the public opinion data used by the center looked only at laws that would prevent employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  The most recent version of ENDA includes language providing protections for gender identity as well--protections that were initially included but eventually stripped from the unsuccessful 2007 bill.  If polled on sexual orientation and gender identity protections, some Americans' responses would undoubtedly be different.

Nevertheless, the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog took a similar look at state-by-state opinion polls before the Senate voted on ENDA, and came to the same conclusions as the Williams Institute:

Will ENDA receive the necessary votes? If senators listened to their constituents, the bill would pass overwhelmingly. Nearly all recent opinion polls indicate that a large majority of the American public — more than 70 percent — supports efforts to make employment discrimination against gay men and and lesbians illegal. Of course, these national numbers are not what the senators are likely to care about. However, when we use national polls to estimate opinion by state, we find that majorities in all 50 states support ENDA-like legislation (note that in 1996, majorities in only 36 states supported ENDA). Today, public support ranges from a low of 63 percent in Mississippi to a high of 81 percent in Massachusetts.

Of course, 32 senators did in fact end up voting against the majority of their constituents that supports employment discrimination protections for LGBT Americans, so it's a pipe dream to think that the Williams Institute report means anything different will happen in the House.  Still, it's worth pointing out that, on this issue at least, Republican members of Congress are pretty far out of step with the very citizens they're representing.

Check out a district-by-district map of the U.S. with the results of the 2007 ENDA vote, AFTER THE JUMP, via the Williams Institute. The 2013 version of the map can be found at the beginning of this post.

Continue reading "Report: Majority in Every Congressional District Supports Law Against Anti-Gay Employment Discrimination" »


John Boehner: 'I See No Basis or Need' for Legislation Protecting LGBT People in the Workplace

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was asked today by the Washington Blade's Chris Johnson about whether he'll allow a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was passed in an historic Senate vote last week.

BoehnerSaid Boehner:

"I am opposed to discrimination of any kind, in the workplace and any place else. But I think this legislation that I’ve dealt with as chairman of The Education & The Workforce Committee…is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits. People are already protected in the workplace. I’m opposed to continuing this. Listen, I understand people have differing opinions on this issue, and I respect those opinions. But as someone who’s worked in the employment law area for all my years in the State House and all my years here, I see no basis or no need for this legislation."

Currently, people can still be fired simply for being gay in 29 states.


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