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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), vice chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus (Equality Caucus), released the following statement after President signed an executive order last week prohibiting federal contractors and agencies from discriminating against employees on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity:
“With Republicans still unwilling to bring up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the House – despite bipartisan support during passage in the Senate – the President was right to act to protect LGBT workers in the federal government from being discriminated against. We should be using every avenue available to fight discrimination – it’s just the right thing to do.
“Nevertheless, this does not free Congress from the responsibility to pass ENDA and protect all workers from discrimination and we must continue to call for such action, and work to narrow the exemption granted to religious organizations.”
Schiff earlier led an effort urging President Obama to issue such an Executive Order. The announcement is an important step towards ending discrimination against LGBT employees and ensuring that they are judged based on the quality of their work and not because of who they are or who they love. The executive order, when implemented, will only protect employees of federal contractors and federal agencies.
Schiff is an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which passed the U.S. Senate in November 2013. ENDA currently has 205 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would establish basic protections in the workplace to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There are currently only 18 states (including California) and the District of Columbia that prohibit discrimination on bases of sexual orientation and gender identity, and an additional 3 states that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. ENDA would provide a basic level of protection against workplace discrimination in a manner modeled closely on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and would apply to private employers as well as local, state, and federal government employers.