Anti-Gay Employer Discrimination Ban Advances

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) took a step forward today.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today approved ENDA, a bill that would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire, and discriminating against employees because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

"These practices, I believe, are un-American," committee chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said today during a markup on the bill. "They should have no place in any American workplace."

The committee voted 15-7 to approve ENDA and report it to the full chamber.

All Republicans on the committee voted against it except for Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and Mark Kirk, R-Ill. Kirk spoke in favor of the bill at the hearing's outset.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was among the senators who voted against sending ENDA to the full Senate.

Ranking Member Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., asked for three changes to the bill before the full Senate votes on it: more guidance for employers on shared facilities, a definition of the term "transition" where the law applies to gender-transitioning individuals, and eliminating a provision that allows cases to proceed under the bill even when an employer has a legitimate reason for taking an action.

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