ENDA’s Back in the 113th Congress

Last Thursday a bi-partisan group of senators and representatives reintroduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Current federal law contains no prohibition on discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in personnel decisions. A number of states have taken their own action to protect employees of all sexual orientation and gender identity, but today it remains legal to fire, fail to hire, demote or fail to promote an employee because of their sexual orientation in 29 states – it remains legal to do so based on an employee’s gender identity in 34.  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act seeks to close that gap and extend the current laws that protect people because of their race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion and disability to include protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

“Across our country, LGBT Americans face the daily fear of losing their jobs and livelihood simply because of who they are or who they love,” Representative Jared Polis, the bill’s lead sponsor in the House, said at the bill’s introduction. “Dedicated individuals should be judged based on their work, nothing more and nothing less.” The tenor of Rep. Polis’ words, and indeed the tenor of the bill itself, resonates deeply with Jewish history and tradition. If all people are created in the image of God, how can we justify treating some in the work place differently than others? And if we as a people once needed such protections in order to succeed in America, how can we deny them to our fellow citizens today?

Because of these resonances with the Reform Jewish community, the Religious Action Center has taken a leading role in fighting for ENDA’s passage. In response to ENDA’s reintroduction Rachel Laser, the Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center, released the following statement: “The Religious Action Center was founded over fifty years ago to bring the voice and commitment of the Reform Jewish community to the Civil Rights movement. Today, we remain committed to ensuring the civil rights of all Americans are protected, including members of the LGBT community, and look forward to the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and to furthering the cause of equality in America.”

A full text of Rachel Laser’s statement can be found here and be sure to keep checking the RACblog for updates on this landmark civil rights bill.


Image courtesy of dailykos.com

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About Benny Witkovsky

Benny Witkovsky is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant, he is from Madison, WI, and recently graduated from Vassar College.

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