In a ground-breaking move, the United States Senate has agreed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would render it illegal to refuse to hire or fire gay or transgender individuals in the workplace. The vote was 64 Senators in favor and 32 opposing. Twenty-one states have legal federal guidelines in place to protect gay and transgender workers, leading many experts to feel the age of tolerance is upon us.
The next challenge will be the House of Representatives. The house speaker has vehemently claimed the bill has no “basis or need” to pass. The historical meaning of the bill speaks for itself, the first of its kind to receive Senate approval for a removal of transgender discrimination. Previous bills did not provide for transgender people.
The National Center for Transgender Equality states the issue of transgender workers should be the highest priority in preventing discrimination on the job. Their statistics show that one in five transgender people is homeless. Over a quarter have been fired from their jobs; almost 100 percent feel they have been discriminated against. One expert speaks of the metaphor of the rainbow. He claims that we are selectively tolerant, but that transgenders – especially those of color – still represent the group most likely to be excluded. Diversity is diversity; we should be color-blind as well as gender-blind in our treatment of all people on the job.
Senate speaker John Boehner feels the rights of Americans are already protected at the workplace. Obama has staunchly supported stronger workplace discrimination laws for the nation’s 16 million workers. Proponents of the bill say it is best in the hands of the voters, who should write letters of support for their Congressmen, urging them to sign the bill.
The battle for equal rights on the job has met one of its final rounds of contention. Minorities, African Americans and women have all struggled for an equal standing in the voting booth, at war and on the job. It is time now to close the book on all forms of gender discrimination.
rollingstone.com, “Five Things to Know About the Employment Non-Discrimination Act” Ricardo Lopez, Nov. 21, 2013