« Senate OKs gay rights bill banning discrimination | Main | Ros-Lehtinen, Log Cabin Republicans cheer Senate passage of ENDA; hopeful that House will pass, too »

U.S. Senate votes 64-32 to pass ENDA; President Barack Obama hails victory; focus shifts to House

News release from HRC:

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate voted 64 to 32 to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for the first time in the legislation’s two-decade history. All Senate Democrats joined 10 Senate Republicans to approve the bill.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:

“Today, a strong bipartisan majority of the United States Senate made history by standing up for a fundamental American truth. Each and every American worker should be judged based on the work they do, and never based on who they are. This broad Senate coalition has sent a vital message that civil rights legislation should never be tied up by partisan political games.

“We firmly believe that if the House of Representative were freed by Speaker John Boehner to vote its conscience, this bill could pass immediately. It’s unconscionable that any one person would stand in the way of this crucial piece of the civil rights puzzle.”

Earlier this week, House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, prematurely suggested that he will not bring ENDA to the floor for an up-or-down vote. However, that statement is already drawing public criticism from some in the speaker’s own party.

In an interview with Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, GOP Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said, “I believe the Speaker should allow a vote on this bill. […] I believe that the American public wants to make sure people are not discriminated against.”

“With today’s vote in the Senate, Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Harkin, lead sponsors Senators Merkley and Kirk, and Senators Collins and Baldwin have shown us all what leadership looks like. Now, Speaker Boehner should take up the mantle of leadership and allow the House to join them.”

Separately, President Obama is also empowered to sign a long-pending executive order that would protect the employees of federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This order is not a silver bullet, and ENDA is vitally necessary after the order is signed. But the Human Rights Campaign has long argued that, by signing the order, President Obama can extend workplace protections to over 16 million American workers.

“We urge the House of Representatives to pass ENDA immediately, and we call on President Obama to send a clear message in support of workplace fairness by signing this executive order,” Griffin said.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

From the White House:

Statement by the President on Senate Passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013

For more than two centuries, the story of our nation has been the story of more citizens realizing the rights and freedoms that are our birthright as Americans.  Today, a bipartisan majority in the Senate took another important step in this journey by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would help end the injustice of our fellow Americans being denied a job or fired just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.   

Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago.  In particular, I thank Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Harkin, Senators Merkley and Collins for their leadership, and Senator Kirk for speaking so eloquently in support of this legislation.  Now it’s up to the House of Representatives.  This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities.  They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.

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 Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law.  On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.