Harry Reid Cites Lesbian Niece in New Call for ENDA

The majority leader told reporters that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has "a chance" of getting a vote in the Senate this year.

BY Lucas Grindley

May 16 2013 10:25 AM ET

Like a lot of Americans, Senate majority leader Harry Reid said a law banning workplace discrimination against LGBT people would affect his family personally.

In a push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal to fire someone for being LGBT, Reid said, "My niece is a lesbian," according to The Huffington Post. "She's a schoolteacher. Her employment shouldn't be affected with that. We should have a law that says that, not just the good graces of wherever you work."

Reid, who is a Mormon, not only said that ENDA is needed but also suggested there's "a chance" it could get a vote in the Senate this session.

Meanwhile, many educators regularly say they are fired for being gay. This year alone, a lesbian gym teacher was fired from Bishop Watterson High School in Ohio after her mother's obituary included passing mention of the teacher's partner. In Oregon, elementary school principal Tom Klansnic was let go after divorcing his wife and coming out. But it happens all the time across all kinds of occupations.

President Obama supports passage of ENDA and has said focusing on that bill is why he won't just sign an executive order making it illegal for federal contractors to discriminate in hiring and firing.

In contrast to Reid is Republican senator Rob Portman, who said during a recent interview that he's wary about supporting ENDA because of its potential for generating lawsuits from people who say they've been discriminated against.  Portman revealed this year that he supports marriage equality in large part because his son is gay.

"I totally support the concept," he said of ENDA at an event hosted by Buzzfeed and reported by Roll Call. But Portman described himself as "a strong believer in religious freedom, and I think an entity that has certain religious tenets should not be required to change those tenets because of this law or others."

Tags: Politics

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