Historic Victory: U.S. Senate Passes Employment Non-Discrimination Act

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund celebrates today’s huge victory as the U.S. Senate just passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with a vote of 64 to 32.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund:

This is a huge historic victory for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families. Most Americans believe that everyone should have access to the American Dream, free from discrimination because of who they are or who they love. We thank the senators who voted to pass ENDA in a bipartisan fashion.

Workplace discrimination negatively impacts all LGBT people. According to the 2008 General Social Survey, 42 percent of LGBT people overall have experienced at least one form of employment discrimination during their lives.

The trans community is disproportionately impacted as was noted in Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, a joint study by the Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. The study found 26 percent of transgender people lost a job and 50 percent were harassed for being transgender. And people of color generally reported higher levels of abuse than survey respondents as a whole.

The Task Force has long advocated for the passage of employment nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), in collaboration with the Task Force, introduced the Equality Act of 1974, a federal bill to ban discrimination against lesbians, gay men, unmarried persons and women in employment, housing and public accommodations.

ENDA was first introduced in Congress in 1994 and the Task Force has been there every step of the way. At the time ENDA was first introduced it included only protections for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. In 2007 gender identity protections were added to ENDA for the first time. We continued to fight for the passage of an inclusive ENDA in both houses of Congress to provide clear employment protections for LGBT workers under federal law.

To read a timeline of the Task Force’s work to secure employment nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, go here.

“We urge the U.S. House of Representatives to follow the U.S. Senate’s bipartisanship and to speedily approve ENDA. This is a popular issue with the American people, at a time when the House is deeply unpopular. Passing ENDA is the right thing to do — and it may also help to restore some public confidence in this component of our democratic institutions,” Carey said.