Senate Committee to Vote on ENDA

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Two weeks after the Supreme Court’s landmark rulings on marriage equality, a Senate committee will hold a vote Wednesday on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It is currently legal under federal law and in a majority of states to fire someone for being LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender). If passed, ENDA would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time.

Similar legislation has been introduced in nearly every Congressional session since 1994, but advocates say the 2013 version of ENDA has more support than ever before and are hopeful that the bill could pass this year. In 1996, the Senate narrowly defeated ENDA (by a single vote) on the same day it approved the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In 2007, the House passed ENDA, but the bill died in the Senate. Unlike previous versions of the bill, the 2013 version of ENDA includes protections on the basis of gender identity.

The current bill also includes an exemption for religious organizations, such as churches, religious schools and charities, to discriminate against LGBT employees.

The Human Rights Campaign announced today that 100 major corporations have officially endorsed ENDA.

Tico Almeida, founder and president of Freedom to Work, said the legislation would allow LGBT workers to "get a fair shot to be judged based on their talent and hard work" and not, as he said, "based on factors that are irrelevant to work, like who you are and who you love."

The legislation is expected to pass in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and head to the Senate floor in the fall.