US: Congress kills the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

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The final attempt to pass a law outlawing discrimination against LGBT people in employment has failed.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect employees on the grounds of sexuality and gender identity, has been stalled in Congress for over a year.

However, the Republicans are set to take back a majority in the Senate in January after last month’s elections  – in addition to extending their majority of the House of  Representatives – leaving the primarily Democrat-sponsored bill dead.

Democrats had attempted to force the bill onto the agenda this week, by attaching it to a vital defense spending bill that must be passed this month.

However, the move was blocked again, by a Rules Committee vote along party lines of 7-3 against.

The manoeuvre was seen as the final attempt to get the bill a hearing before the Republicans take the Senate.

President Obama has already signed an Executive Order seen by many as a weaker version of the bill, which outlaws discrimination against LGBT people among federal contractors, but it is not as far-reaching.

Additionally, If a Republican with a poor record on gay rights takes office in 2016, the executive order might possibly be rescinded, leaving no federal protection.

It is highly unlikely that any equality legislation at all will pass through Congress while the Republicans control both houses – and certainly not without religious exemptions, which some fear could lead to an effective ‘license to discriminate’ against gay people.