US Congress to vote on workplace protection law

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

After weeks of delay, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be voted on today by the US House of Representatives.

It is unclear if an amendment to re-introduce protections to trans people along with lesbians, bisexuals and gay men will be considered by lawmakers.

The decision to remove trans people from the scope of the legislation caused anger among the LGBT community in the US, with many demanding an “all or nothing” stance on ENDA.

It goes to the floor of the House with three amendments, which could be withdrawn before the vote.

The first is Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin’s attempt to reintroduce trans protections, while the other two try to clarify that the new law will not alter parts of the Civil Rights Act and the Defence of Marriage Act.

The White House has already indicated that the President will veto ENDA if it makes it through the Senate.

Many of the House Democrats elected for the first time last November do not want ENDA to include protections for trans people, fearful of a backlash from conservatives.

“People didn’t want to force a ‘hard’ vote that might hurt their election chances,” Hilary Rosen, a Democratic lobbyist and gay and lesbian advocate, wrote on the Huffington Post blog.

ENDA, which would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or promote a person based on sexual orientation, is expected to pass.

This is the first time since 1994 that legislation that protects LGB people at work has been brought to the House.

ENDA’s supporters in the Senate will need the votes of 60 of the 100 Senators rather than a simple majority to overcome expected Republican attempts to kill the legislation.

Currently 17 states have protections for LGB people; eight of those states extend that protection to trans people.

In 1996 similar legislation failed in the Senate by one vote.

87% of the top Fortune 500 companies in the US already provide protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The US military and religious organisations are excluded from the legislation, which also does not force employers to extend benefits to same-sex partners.