ENDA Stops Short Of Providing Full Protection From Discrimination

In a new brief from the Center for American Progress (CAP), Crosby Burns and Philip Ross point out that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would prohibit employers from firing individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but it still would not offer protections in housing, health care, or public accommodations. This is besides the fact that ENDA, itself, is not expected to pass as long as there is a Republican majority in the House. Even if it did, a restaurant owner would be prohibited from firing a gay employee, but in many states could still kick a gay couple out of the establishment for kissing.

The brief makes the following recommendations:

– Enacting strong federal, state, and local laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and in housing, health care, and areas of public accommodation.

– Extending the Fair Housing Act’s scope to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in its list of protected categories.

– State and local agencies strongly enforcing their nondiscrimination protections and investigating any and all complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

– Health care facilities adopting policies that would help ensure equal access to quality health care for gay and transgender patients.

– Areas of public accommodation ensuring their nondiscrimination policies include sexual orientation and gender identity.

CAP also released two other publications today related to ENDA: a FAQ about ENDA and a brief on the long history of the bill. The FAQ points out that there is strong public support for employment protections. Hopes were high that it might pass last year, but it wasn’t brought up for a vote. The latest incarnation of the bill is not expected to make any progress because of Republican control in the House.