The former director of the North Carolina GOP is urging support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is expected to take up on July 10.
The measure, which would ban bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, has the support of at least 53 U.S. senators.
Dan Gurley, former executive director of NC GOP, would like Republican Sen. Richard Burr to become the 54th to support the bill. Gurley was joining activists with Freedom to Work and Equality North Carolina in nudging Burr this afternoon.
ENDA, for a couple of years, has been supported by a majority of U.S. voters, according to polls.
“Most Americans agree: Discrimination is wrong and it must be stopped. We need the committee to mark-up ENDA and for it to be swiftly taken-up by the full Senate,” said Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Carey said, “The cruel irony of last week’s Supreme Court marriage decisions is that an LGBT couple could get married one day, and on the very next day, because we still don’t have federal laws to ban employment discrimination, those same individuals could be fired from their jobs.”
A 2008 survey found that about 42 percent of LGBT Americans had experienced employment discrimination. Other studies show that transgender Americans are disproportionately impacted by discrimination and harassment in employment.
One study, “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” found that 26 percent of transgender people lost a job because of their gender identity and 50 percent were harassed for being transgender.
ENDA has been introduced in the Senate by Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon. All but three Democrats – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida and Mark Pryor of Arkansas – have signed as co-sponsors. On the GOP side, only Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine are co-sponsors.
Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat from Iowa, scheduled the committee hearing.
“Our livelihoods depend upon a future that’s free from such discrimination,” said Carey. “We thank Senators Merkley and Kirk for championing this legislation. Now is the time for Congress to tear down this appalling barrier that keeps the American Dream out of reach for far too many LGBT people.”
However, there’s general agreement that ENDA will not advance in the GOP-controlled House. This is why activists have called on the president to sign an executive order barring contractors with the federal government from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.