The U.S. House of
Representatives began hearings Wednesday on the
Employment Non-Discrimination Act with a variety of
witnesses, from House members to guest experts,
scheduled to speak.
The federal bill would make it illegal to fire,
refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees based
on sexual orientation or gender identity. Such
legislation has not been introduced in Congress since 1996.
Currently, protections vary by state. In 31 states it
is legal to fire employees because they are gay; in 39
states employees can be fired for being transgender.
House members Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Tammy
Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) will
testify in favor of the bill. Also scheduled to
testify in support were M.V. Lee Badgett, a scholar
affiliated with the Williams Institute at the
University of California, Los Angeles; and University
of Colorado professor Helen Norton, among others; while
Washington attorney Larry Lorber is expected to speak
against the bill.
This would be the first hearing on ENDA, as
the bill is known, since the 1990s. (The