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Coalition of Civil Rights Advocates Launch Campaign to Ban Workplace Discrimination Against Gays


In an effort to garner support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which has languished on Capital Hill for almost two decades, a coalition of civil rights groups has launched a $2 million campaign. The coalition is called American Workplace Opportunity. It is targeting 13 senators in 11 states in the hope of following the same strategy used by gay marriage advocates in pushing through successful state ballot initiatives. The coalition is made up of gay rights groups such as Human Rights Campaign, the American Unity Fund, as well as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Service Employees International Union. According to Campaign Manager Matthew McTighe, the gay rights movement "is finally taking this model we know works and applying it to a new issue." ENDA would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in most American workplaces. As of this date, twenty-one states and the District of Columbia ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 17 of those states and the District extend that protection to gender identity. The New York City Human Rights Law protects employees working in the City of New York offers protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

On July 10, 2013 the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions adopted the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by a bipartisan vote of 15-7. "Advocates have been working for nearly 40 years to pass these basic protections to ensure that all American workers, who stand side-by-side in the workplace and contribute with equal measure in their jobs, will stand on the same equal footing under the law,"said Ian Thompson, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legislative representative. "In 2013, it is completely unacceptable to force individuals to hide who they are out of fear of losing their livelihood." The ENDA now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Additional information regarding this bill is available here.

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