A bill that would outlaw workplace
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
(transgender protections) was reintroduced in the Senate on Thursday.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act
(ENDA) was introduced by Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley of Oregon
and Tom Harkin of Iowa and Republican Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois
and Susan Collins of Maine.
“The right to work hard and earn a
living is a fundamental right. It is essential to the success of a
family. It is essential to the pursuit of happiness. It is part of
equality under the law,” Merkley said.
Last year, as a member of the House,
Kirk angered gay rights activists when he voted against repeal of
“Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that forbids gay and
bisexual troops from serving openly. After winning his Senate seat,
however, Kirk reversed his position, and voted to end the law.
Kirk said, “nothing provides more
dignity than a job.”
“We will have more jobs and higher
incomes when the most qualified individuals are given the best
opportunities, regardless of orientation,” Kirk added. “This
legislation ensures that.”
gay Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank reintroduced the bill in
the House last week. However, nearly half of the of the bill's
support from last year had eroded in the new Republican-dominated