Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Susan Collins (ME), Edward M. Kennedy (MA) and Olympia Snowe (ME) today introduced a fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) into the U.S. Senate. 34 senators co-sponsored the bill.
ENDA "would prohibit employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and joint labor-management committees from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against those employed or seeking employment, on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. Such protections are already in place prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability."
The four main co-sponsors released statements regarding the bill. Read them and see the names of the other co-sponsors, AFTER THE JUMP…
Said Merkley: "There is no place in the workplace for employment discrimination. No worker in America should be fired or denied a job based on who they are. Discrimination is wrong, period. I’m proud to join Senator Kennedy, who is a civil rights legend, and Senators Collins and Snowe, both champions for equality, in taking this next step in our ongoing effort to create a more perfect union and guarantee every American, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, the right to earn a living.”
Said Collins: "Similar to the current law in several states, including Maine, and the policies of many Fortune 500 companies, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would close an important gap in federal civil rights laws by making it illegal to discriminate in employment based on sexual orientation. Our legislation affirms the principle that individuals should be judged on their skills and abilities, and not by who they are."
Said Kennedy: "The promise of America will never be fulfilled as long as justice is denied to even one among us. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act brings us closer to fulfilling that promise for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender citizens. I’m proud to join Senators Merkley, Collins and Snowe in introducing this important legislation."
Said Snowe: "This legislation is long overdue. We cannot continue to allow two standards of rights in the workplace, based on sexual orientation or identity. Ensuring equality for all Americans is the least we can do in living up to the standards of inclusion that this nation is built upon. There is no place for discriminating against any of our citizens for whatever reason and I commend my colleagues for their willingness to champion equal rights for every American."
According to Merkley, "Other original co-sponsors of ENDA include Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin, Senators Daniel Akaka (HI), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Barbara Boxer (CA), Sherrod Brown (OH), Roland Burris (IL), Maria Cantwell (WA), Ben Cardin (MD), Bob Casey (PA), Chris Dodd (CT), Russ Feingold (WI), Diane Feinstein (CA), Al Franken (MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Tom Harkin (IA), Daniel Inouye (HI), John Kerry (MA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Patrick Leahy (VT), Carl Levin (MI), Joe Lieberman (CT), Robert Menendez (NJ), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Patty Murray (WA), Jack Reed (RI), Bernie Sanders (VT), Chuck Schumer (NY), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Arlen Specter (PA), Mark Udall (CO), Tom Udall (NM), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Ron Wyden (OR)."