News / USA

Workplace Protections for Gays Advance in US Senate

Sen. Tom Harkin, right, stands with Sen. Susan Collins just after the Senate cleared a major hurdle and agreed to proceed to debate a bill that would prohibit workplace discrimination  against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 4, 2013.
Sen. Tom Harkin, right, stands with Sen. Susan Collins just after the Senate cleared a major hurdle and agreed to proceed to debate a bill that would prohibit workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 4, 2013.
Michael Bowman
A bill to protect homosexual and trans-gendered Americans from workplace discrimination has cleared an initial hurdle in the U.S. Senate, and is expected to be approved in the coming days. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, has President Barack Obama’s backing, but appears unlikely to come up for a vote in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

The Democratic-led Senate voted Monday to begin debate on ENDA by a vote of 61 to 30, a margin that all but assures passage in the chamber when a final vote is held.

At a time when same-sex marriage stands at the forefront of the battle over gay rights, ENDA seeks to address a different concern: the ability of gay people to work and support themselves. In a majority of U.S. states, it is not against the law for a worker to be denied a job or fired over his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Democratic Senator Tom Harkin said ENDA would ban such discrimination nationwide.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gendered [LGBT] Americans deserve the same civil rights protections from discrimination as all other Americans. This bill will accomplish that," he said. "No American should be turned away or having to fear the loss of their job or their means of support for any reasons other than their ability to do that job.”

All Democratic senators voted to advance ENDA, joined by seven Republicans, including Susan Collins of the northeastern state of Maine.

“The right to work is fundamental," she said. "How can we in good conscience deny that right to any LGBT American who is qualified and willing to work?”

No senator took the floor Monday to speak in opposition to ENDA. But despite the bill’s exemptions for religious organizations, some conservative groups have decried ENDA as an affront to people of faith and an attack on religious liberty.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner issued a statement saying the bill will encourage frivolous lawsuits and hamper job creation. Without Boehner’s backing, it is not likely ENDA will get a vote in the House, and it is not clear the bill would pass there even if it did.

Many of America’s best-known corporations already have policies banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Polls show large majorities of Americans not only support workplace protections for gay people, but mistakenly believe such protections already exist nationwide. Current U.S. law bans discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion and disability.

More than four dozen countries have laws protecting gays in the workplace, including many European nations, Canada, Israel and Australia.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid