BILL BANNING DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION INTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE

by Patricia A. Schaeffer, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 24 by Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA), Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Christopher Shays (R-CT). The bill (H.R. 2015) currently has 76 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor, as well as the House committees on Administration, Oversight and Government Reform, and Judiciary.

ENDA would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently an employee can be fired legally in 33 states based on sexual orientation.

The bill defines sexual orientation to mean “homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.” It defines gender identity to mean “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

Key Provisions:

  • Prohibits employers from making decisions about hiring, firing, promoting or compensating an employee based on sexual orientation or gender identity;

  • Makes clear that preferential treatment and quotas are strictly prohibited, and that lawsuits cannot be based on statistics of the sexual orientation or gender identity of employees;

  • Exempts members of the Armed Forces, veterans’ preferences and religious organizations;

  • Does not require employers to provide benefits to domestic partners.

The Human Rights Campaign reports that currently some 20 major corporations have joined the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness in support of ENDA.

The bill is expected to go to the House floor for a vote in the next couple of months.

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