Bill Would Make It Illegal to Fire Gay Workers for Being Gay

The U.S. Senate is planning to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act this week. Whether it passes in the U.S. House of Representatives is another matter.

(Photo Credit: bschueddekopf/Flickr)

It might be surprising to some, but federal law does not prohibit employers from firing or refusing to hire someone based on their sexual orientation. At the state level, 29 states don't protect LGBT people from employment discrimination, according to The Atlantic.

The legislation cleared a key procedural hurdle Monday, with seven Republicans joining Senate Democrats to move the bill forward. The Senate is expected to pass the bill on Friday.

But for the bill to become law, it will have to get through the Republican-led House, where a majority of Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), are against the bill. The Wall Street Journal reports the best chance for the bill to get through the House is if it's attached to an unrelated measure authorizing defense programs.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobby, has taken a neutral stance on the bill, though Boehner says the bill "will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs."

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly gay member of the Senate, implored her colleagues to vote in favor of the bill on the Senate floor.

"Every American deserves the freedom to work free of discrimination ...Your courage will be respected and remembered when the history of this struggle is written," Baldwin said.

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