After a nearly 20-year battle to approve the Employment Anti-Discrimination Act, the U.S. Senate Thursday passed it by a two-to-one margin. The bill would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Senator Jeff Merkley played a big role in passing Oregon's version of the law when he was the state's house speaker in 2007. Now on the federal level, he's taking up the cause championed by the late Ted Kennedy. Before dying in 2009, Kennedy asked Merkley to fight for passage of the Employment Anti-Discrimination Act, or Enda. Now, Merkley has to convince House Speaker John Boehner to bring the newly-passed Senate bill up for a vote in the House.
"So in 29 states, it's perfectly legal to not hire or to fire someone because they are lesbian, gay or bi-sexual. And in 33 states it's legal to fire somebody because of their transgender status," says Merkley.
Speaker Boehner says he will not take up the bill because states already have the law and a federal version could spark litigation.
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