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Senate Approves Employee Non-Discrimination Act

Lizzie Pereira |
November 7, 2013 | 1:51 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

Twitter @USSenateUpdate.
Twitter @USSenateUpdate.
The Senate has approved a bill that would outlaw workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, with a final tally 64-32. 

29 states currently have no laws that protect LGBT individuals in the workplace. It is already illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, nationality, religion, age, or disability. The Employee Non-Discrimination Act thus marks a push forward in gay rights and equality. 

Opposition was relatively quiet throughout the Senate debate. Republican Sen. Dan Coats from Indiana, however, expressed his dissent, saying that their employers would then have to violate their religious beliefs, which would inherently counter rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

“There’s two types of discrimination here we’re dealing with, and one of those goes to the very fundamental right granted to every American through our Constitution, a cherished value of freedom of expression and religion,” he said.

Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-Ore), on the other hand, called the vote “historic for equality and freedom,” and that the vote directly correlates to the Constitutions principles of freedom. 

“Deeply embedded in the Constitution are notions of freedom and liberty, and discrimination is the antithesis of those founding values. Everyone should have the right to work hard and earn a living. No one should be fired for who they are and who they love. The Senate said today in a strong bipartisan voice that discrimination is just plain wrong. We are one step closer to equality for our LGBT friends and family,” he said in a statement following the Senate’s approval. 

However, it is believed that the bill will most likely not be passed in the Republican-led House because Speaker John Boehner opposes the bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Red (D-Nev) made a statement urging Boehner to take on the legislation.

SEE ALSO: Boehner Kills Gay Workplace Bias Bill

“It is time for Congress to pass a federal law that ensures all our citizens – regardless of where the live – can go to work unafraid of who they are,” he said. 

Boehner has maintained his opposition, claiming that not only is the bill unnecessary, but would also create frivolous, expensive lawsuits for many businesses.  

Still, Obama called upon the House to consider the bill in a statement following the 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. I urge the House of Representatives leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law.” 

Reach Executive Producer Lizzie Perera here



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