After Casey Push, Senate Committee Schedules Hearing on LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

Bipartisan group: Legislation “Embodies the American Ideal of Fairness”

WASHINGTON, DC –After a push from U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and a bipartisan group of colleagues, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee announced that it will hold a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on June 12, 2012.

Senator Casey, a cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, pushed for the hearing in a bipartisan letter with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The Senators cited the profound effect employment discrimination has on the wages, job opportunities, productivity and health of LGBT workers.

“ENDA embodies the American ideal of fairness: employees should be judged on their skills and abilities in the workplace, and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the Senators wrote.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said, “We thank Senators Merkley, Kirk, Casey and Collins for their leadership on fair workplaces. Chairman Harkin has been a tremendous leader on equality issues for years and a longtime cosponsor of ENDA and we look forward to working with him to advance protections for the LGBT community.”

Last session, the Senate HELP Committee held the first ever hearing on a fully inclusive ENDA. President Obama has recently voiced support for ENDA legislation.

The full text of the letter to HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin and Ranking Member Michael B. Enzi is below:

Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Enzi:

We respectfully request that the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hold a legislative hearing to examine employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans to take testimony and consider acting on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S. 811).

As you know, employment discrimination has profound effects on the wages, job opportunities, productivity, and health of LGBT workers. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) takes a balanced approach to ending workplace discrimination against the LGBT community. Specifically, ENDA would prohibit most workplaces in the United States, with exemptions for religious institutions, private membership clubs and certain small businesses, from discriminating against potential and existing employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As strong supporters of this legislation, we urge you to schedule a time for Committee members to consider this proposed legislation. 

ENDA embodies the American ideal of fairness: employees should be judged on their skills and abilities in the workplace, and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While some states prohibit public and private employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, recent studies have found evidence of continued widespread employment discrimination against LGBT people. Sadly, it is still legal for businesses in many states to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We appreciate your past support for discussing this critical issue for millions of American workers, and we respectfully ask that you ensure an opportunity during this Congress for the full Committee to consider testimony on this bill.   

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