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After languishing for decades, ENDA introduced once again in US Congress

After languishing for decades, ENDA introduced once again in US Congress

The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has long languished in the US C0ngress, was introduced again on Thursday (25 April) by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

Among the co-sponsors optimistic of the bill’s chances is Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (pictured) who believes the timing may finally be right for passage.

‘There’s a growing recognition that discrimination is wrong’ against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, Merkley tells HuffPost. ‘The same concept that’s driving the marriage debate will help drive success on employment discrimination.’

ENDA would establish protections nationally to prevent employers from discriminating against an employee because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Last June, President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass a fully inclusive ENDA, which it failed to do.  As part of his first presidential campaign, Obama had pledged to extend workplace protections to all LGBT individuals employed by federal contractors.

Obama received a letter last month from 110 members of the US Congress asking him to sign ENDA into law by executive order rather than hoping a Republican-led House of Representatives will ever pass it.

Obama has said previously that he supports ENDA but would like to see it passed by Congress in much the same way the end of the anti-gay military policy Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was handled.

Merkley, a Democrat, co-sponsored the bill along with fellow Democratic senators Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), as well as Republicans Mark Kirk (Illinois) and Susan Collins (Maine).

A companion ENDA bill has been introduced in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives by Democrat Jared Polis of Colorado and Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.

The ACLU, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Transgender Law Center issued a joint statement saying they are appreciative of the efforts of the lawmakers.

But they have ‘grave concerns’ about the current version of the proposed act.

They stated: ‘While we applaud the progress that has been made, we stand united in expressing very grave concerns with the religious exemption in ENDA. It could provide religiously affiliated organizations – far beyond houses of worship – with a blank check to engage in employment discrimination against LGBT people.’