In a historic vote, the Senate passed the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) 64-32 yesterday, with 52 Democrats, 10 Republicans, and 2 Independents supporting the measure. ENDA would protect people from discrimination due to gender identity or sexual orientation in the work place. If passed by the House, it would be the first federal LGBT rights law. ENDA was first introduced to Congress in 1994 but never got out of either chamber until yesterday.
"No one should have to face employment discrimination or the fear of being fired simply because of who they are," said Maya Rupert, Policy Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "This vote is historic and signals a sea-change in the fight for workplace equality. It is no longer a question of if LGBT employees will receive federal workplace protections - it is a question of when."
Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) believes ENDA would pass in the House if brought to a vote, it is opposed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). President Obama has urged the House Republican Leadership to bring ENDA to the floor for a vote.
"If the House of Representatives were freed by Speaker John Boehner to vote its conscience, this bill could pass immediately," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. "It's unconscionable that any one person would stand in the way of this crucial piece of the civil rights puzzle."
Twenty-one states have laws that protect against sexual orientation discrimination in workplaces, and 17 states protect against gender identity discrimination. This still leaves 33 states where a person can be fired for no other reason than being who they are.
Media Resources: CNN 11/8/13; Thinkprogress 11/7/13, 6/14/13
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .