Politics
3:21 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth Urges Speaker Boehner to Allow Gay Rights Vote

Credit Laura Ellis

Saying individuals deserve workplace protections regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth is urging Republican Speaker John Boehner to bring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act up for an immediate House vote.

The push comes after the Senate passed the measure by a 64-32 margin on Thursday with nearly a dozen GOP lawmakers joining Democrats.

ENDA prohibits public and private employers along with labor unions from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered individuals. It also protects LGBT people against discrimination in hiring, termination and compensation.

"There are no exceptions to equality," Yarmuth said in statement. "The Employment Non-Discrimination Act will protect all workers from discrimination—regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity—and Speaker Boehner should bring this bipartisan bill to the floor for a vote immediately."

Leaders in the Republican caucus have opposed bringing ENDA up for a floor vote, however. A Boehner spokesman told CNN the speaker believes the legislation will lead to "frivolous" lawsuits and cost American businesses jobs.

Federal law already bars discrimination based on race, sex, nationality, religion, age and disability. But 29 states, including Kentucky, do not have laws with workplace protections for LGBT residents.

Republican Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana says he voted against the bill due to a lack of First Amendment protections for those with religious views opposing homosexuality.

"The legislation before us raises very serious concerns regarding religious freedom," he said. "The so-called protections from religious liberty in this bill are vaguely defined and do not extend to all organizations that wish to adhere to their moral or religious beliefs in their hiring practices."

Coats's counterpart in the Senate, Democrat Joe Donnelly, voted for the bill.

Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky voted against the measure.

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