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Employment Non-Discrimination Act: Law of the land?

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a bill that passed in the Senate and is currently waiting a vote in the House. The key nature of this bill points to a more global prevention of discrimination at the workplace based on gender or sexual orientation. Studies show that almost three-quarters of all Americans support such federal protections. The bill would have huge implications for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Individuals. Currently only 21 states have guidelines in place protecting the rights of gay individuals, and only 17 have such protection on the basis of gender equity.

The issue has been raised of the reconciliation of LGBT rights and reproductive justice since many in this community resign themselves to "hiding out "at work. It can be frustrating given the leaps and bounds society has made in the face of gays and lesbian coming out of the closet and being accepted. Coming out at work remains an elusive victory.

Hiding one's sexual identify at work can be silent agony. If the bill does not pass the house, ENDA could cost unwanted harassment at the workplace or even job loss. Aside from social issues and awkwardness, hiding one's gender identity can result in forfeiting benefits and other conveniences reserved for heterosexual families and couples.

Discrimination against the LGBT community has other consequences. Many experience a higher level of economic insecurity, as well as a feeling a marginalization. They can't talk about their weekends at work at the water cooler with their colleagues and can never bring dates to company events. This takes an emotional and physical toll on an employee, who agonizes over not being able to share the details of one's life in their work environment.

Conversely, the center of American Progress has reported that those LGBT individuals who have revealed their sexual orientation have a high level of productivity, job satisfaction and commitment to the job.

This has become an issue of what society terms "reproductive justice" and reminds us that the first priority on the job should be hiring and firing people for their job qualifications and not for their sexual orientation. For proponents of ENDA, the bill will close the last chapter on the book written on workplace discrimination.

Source: rhrealitycheck.org, "Why Is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act Important? Can’t LGBT People Just Hide Their Identities?" Lauren Paulk, Dec. 19, 2013

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