US: LGBT anti-discrimination law under review before introduction next month

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A bill protecting LGBT people against discrimination will be reintroduced to the Congress next month, with its authors hoping to see it pass after almost 20 years of repeatedly failing to become law.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will be introduced in April by Congressman Jared Polis, one of six openly gay or bisexual Representatives in this session of Congress.

ENDA aims to address discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote an employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

ENDA was first introduced to protect gay, lesbian and bisexual people in 1994, and has been reintroduced in every session of Congress since, barring the 109th session. It has evolved since its debut to include protection for transgender people.

Mr Polis told the Washington Blade the language of the bill was being reconsidered carefully before this session’s attempt“We’re going through ENDA now and have been working with many of the advocacy groups and my staff.

“We are in the process of listening to folks in the equality community — both the transgender community as well as the gay community,” he added. “We’ve gotten a lot of good input into improving the bill. We’re trying to see where we can forge consensus, and again, no decisions have been made about the final language.”

He added that ENDA’s authors were considering what kind of exemption the bill should to give religious organisations, which will likely be a crucial factor in deciding how much support it receives.

In February a group of 37 senators called on President Obama to bypass Congress by implementing ENDA by executive order.