On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would ban discrimination of employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. On Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal urged House Speaker John Boehner to take up the bill in the House.
Connecticut, and 20 other states, already have laws on the books protecting gays and transgendered employees from discrimination. ENDA would cover the 48 percent of all LGBT employees nationwide that can still be fired for sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill easily passed in the Senate on a 64-32 vote. Senator Richard Blumenthal, speaking at the legislative office building, said it's time for the House to step up. "Our purpose now has to be to persuade John Boehner that he should, very simply, allow the House to vote on this measure," said Blumenthal. "If he does, it will pass."
On Boehner's reluctance to put ENDA to a vote in the House, Blumenthal said, "One man, in one branch of government, should not block the entire nation from taking a dramatic landmark step."
It's unclear when or even if House Speaker Boehner will bring the bill up for a vote. Boehner opposes it, saying it will "increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs." State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, who is openly gay, takes issue with Boehner also calling the legislation itself frivolous. "There are approximately 8.2 million LGBT folks working for private companies, state and local governments, and the federal government. That is not a frivolous number by any stretch of the imagination," said Lembo.
Responding to House Speaker John Beohner's remark's about ENDA being "frivolous," Lembo remarked, "I congratulate the speaker on hitting the biological trifecta in being born white, straight, and male in America, but not everyone is dealt that same hand."
Blumenthal believes that ultimately, Boehner will have to yield to public opinion, and bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. The question is when. After all, ENDA was first introduced to Congress by the late Senator Ted Kennedy 17 years ago.