U.S. Senate Poised To Consider The Employment Non-Discrimination Act

LEGISLATION WOULD EXPAND PROTECTION AGAINST EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION TO ALL AMERICANS, REGARDLESS OF THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION, OR GENDER IDENTITY

Blatant employment discrimination strips away the right of each individual American to be judged on their merits and abilities.  Every American must be allowed to contribute to society without facing unfair discrimination on account of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.  It exacerbates and complicates our ongoing national fight for equal protection under law and against bigotry and intolerance when anyone is left unprotected.

19 states currently offer no protection at all for people due to their perceived sexual orientation; another 4 states only offer protections when state jobs are involved.  Thus too many Americans may be discriminated against, regardless of their job performance, simply because of who they are or who they may seem to be.  Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, whether such orientation is real, perceived, or simply used as an excuse for other forms of discrimination, denies qualified Americans their basic civil rights. 

To combat this blatant discrimination, Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) has introduced S. 815, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  This legislation would extend civil rights protections that are currently based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age and disability to include sexual orientation and gender identity.  It would prohibit employers from making decisions about hiring, firing, promoting or compensating an employee based solely on their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  It further makes it clear that preferential treatment and quotas are strictly prohibited, while providing exemptions to the U.S. Armed Services and religious organizations.  ENDA is a thoughtful, fair and balanced approach to ensure that all Americans are given the opportunity to meet their fullest potential in the workplace. 

The U.S. Senate is expected to take up S. 815, ENDA, this week.  The NAACP strongly supports ENDA and urges every U.S. Senator to support cloture (the vote to end debate, so they can move forward with the bill), oppose any weakening amendments, and support final passage.

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