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Harkin Statement on HELP Committee Passage of Bipartisan, Fully-Inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement applauding the Committee’s passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity:

“Protections against workplace discrimination have made our country a better, fairer, and more equal place. It is time to promote workplace fairness by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and I am pleased that the HELP Committee has moved forward to eliminate such discrimination in our society by passing a bipartisan, fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. This bill renews our historical commitment to the advancement of civil rights, and to the American ideal of a meritocracy in which people are judged on their talent, ability, and qualifications—not by the color of their skin, their religion, their gender, their national origin, their age, whether they have a disability, their sexual orientation, or their gender identity.

“As we move forward on bringing ENDA to a vote before the full Senate, I urge my colleagues to do what is right—for LGBT Americans and for our economy—and pass this critical civil rights bill.”

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against those employed or seeking employment, on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.  Such protections are already in place prohibiting discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability. As of April 2013, 434 (88 percent) of the Fortune 500 companies had implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 282 (57 percent) had policies that include gender identity. Today’s vote is the first vote on ENDA by the Senate HELP Committee since 2002.

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