US: Anti-discrimination bill could be dead after Republicans win Senate

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act could be dead, after Republicans gained control of the Senate in yesterday’s midterm elections.

The Republican victory means the GOP will have a slim majority in the Senate and a large majority in the House of Representatives when the new session begins in January, halting progress for ENDA – which would provide federal employment protections for gay people for the first time.

Even with a Democrat-controlled Senate, ENDA has been stalled in Congress for the past year, with Republicans in the House refusing to bring the bill to a vote, and efforts to compromise also frustrating LGBT groups.

Unless the bill can be passed through both houses of Congress in the next month, it is likely to be scrapped entirely.

Jerame Davis of Pride as Work told the Washington Blade: “I think it means more gridlock and no movement on LGBT issues in Congress.

“We’ve been, as you know, waiting for something akin to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to pass Congress for over 30 years and with a Republican-controlled Senate, we’re not likely to see movement.

“In fact, the last time that ENDA made any movement was in the Senate, and the Republican takeover means that bill is certainly dead in that house of Congress.

“Until Congress can pass a clean version of ENDA without extraneous religious exemptions, we will have to look to state legislatures to pick up the slack.”

However, Jeff Cook-McCormac, of the pro-gay American Unity Fund, claimed the bill could survive if it is pushed through this month, attached to a vital piece of legislation.

He said: “I think that it’s a little early to tell what the prospects are for something like that, but I do believe that over the next week, week-and-a-half, we’re going to have a much clearer idea of the type of things that might be possible in the lame duck, what the window looks like, and what types of efforts will be necessary to help that move forward.”