The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) Passes in the U.S. House of Representatives
November 26, 2007—On November 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007 [H.R.3685.EH]. This act, also known as ENDA, protects individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation. For many gays and lesbians who have been denied equal treatment in the workplace because of their sexual orientation, the passage of ENDA has been a long-awaited victory. Currently, only 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws barring discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation.
When previously introduced as H.R. 2015, the act included protection for transgendered individuals, but the provisions on gender identity were removed from the final bill. Many gay rights activists and Congressional leaders expressed disappointment over the decision to withdraw protection for transgendered workers from the bill’s language—including Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, a lesbian who represents Madison, Wisconsin. But Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who sponsored the bill, felt that an extended debate over the legislation would only delay its passage. Religious organizations, the armed forces, and small businesses with fewer than 15 persons would be exempt from applying ENDA.
Currently, no similar bill exists in the Senate, although Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts has expressed interest in introducing the necessary parallel legislation. President George W. Bush has threatened to veto the bill if it ever reaches his desk.
For more information about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, visit http://thomas.loc.gov.