A recent development could raise hope for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to be reconsidered by Senate.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, an initial co-sponsor of a version of ENDA in 1996, has revealed that his niece is a lesbian. Some believe that Reid could push the legislation to the Senate.
“My niece is a lesbian…She’s a school teacher. Her employment shouldn’t be affected with that. We should have a law that says that, not just the good graces of wherever you work,” Senator Reid said.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a bill which would protect LGBT individuals against discrimination in the workplace.
ENDA was in the Senate in 1996 but fell short by one vote, 49-50. Although ENDA has passed in some states, it has yet to be written into federal law. In many states it is legal to fire employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Although Reid has yet to say whether or not he will be pushing ENDA to the top of Senate’s agenda, some LGBT advocates believe that the majority leader will make progress in moving this bill forward.
In 2007, a truncated version of ENDA, which did not include transgender individuals, passed Senate but then died when it reached the higher chambers.
Reid isn’t the first politician to be influenced by events in his personal life.
Republican Senator Rob Portman said he is in favor of same-sex marriage after his son came out as gay. However, he hasn’t yet backed ENDA.
Portman said, “the current version of ENDA that I have looked at, I have some concerns about. One, about the litigation it would result because it could be heavily litigated the way it’s written… it would encourage lawsuits based on some standards that are in my view a gray area.”
Portman’s Press Secretary, Caitlin Dunn, further explained the Senator’s philosophy on ENDA in an interview with 429Magazine.
“Senator Portman is strongly opposed to discrimination and is looking at proposals to address it. He is concerned about excessive reliance on litigation as a tool for social change, but he has not studied the most recent version of ENDA.”