It looks like there will be progress toward a federal ban on anti-LGBT discrimination this year, in one way or another.
At a Center for American Progress event in Washington, D.C., today, U.S. senator Tom Harkin of Iowa pledged to move the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which he chairs.
“I’ve been on ENDA for years — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — and as chairman of the HELP Committee, I intend to move it this year,” Harkin said. “We’re going to move ENDA this year, so I just want you to know that, OK?” An aide to Harkin later clarified that he meant the committee, not the full Senate, as he has no control over whether or when the full body will vote, the Washington Blade reports.
Meanwhile, if Congress does not pass ENDA, President Obama may issue an executive order prohibiting companies that do business with the federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to The Washington Post.
“Obama decided against issuing such an order during the presidential campaign last year, disappointing many gay-rights activists,” the Post reports. But now sources say he “may reverse that decision and issue the order if Congress does not pass broader legislation offering protection for gays in the workplace,” the paper notes.
Meanwhile, LGBT activists are eager to see if the president mentions ENDA and other gay concerns in tonight’s State of the Union address. Read our editor in chief’s thoughts about the address here, and watch video of Harkin’s Center for American Progress talk below.