A bill to end bigotry

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There are two men waiting to be interviewed for a job. They have the same education, are equally talented, and both look wonderful in a suit and tie. Now, let’s say one applicant has more experience in the field of work he is applying for, while the other was fired from his previous job for incompetence. Who got hired? The one who got fired. Why? Because the other one was gay.

As of November 30, 2013, there are 29 states where it is legal for private employers to not only fire, but also refuse to hire employees because of their sexual orientation; employees can be openly discriminated against and there is no law to prevent it. This bigotry is an error in justice but can be stopped with ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Of course, that is if Speaker of the House John Boehner would ever bring the bill to a vote in the House of Representatives.

The gay rights bill was passed by the Senate with 64 votes, with 54 from Democrats and ten from Republicans. Supported by 73% of Americans, ENDA would prohibit private employers with over 15 employees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. If passed, the bill would provide legal protection for persons discriminated against by sexuality or gender identity. In federal and many state courts, such discrimination is currently not considered grounds for a trial.

John Boehner claims that “this legislation…is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits” and that “people are already protected in the workplace.” Other opponents of ENDA have also masked their pro-discrimination views through  such false arguments. But how are employees’ rights protected when it is legal to put up a sign saying, “No gay employees wanted”? Is it really “frivolous” for someone to be discriminated against for whom they love or who they are? I don’t think so, Mr. Speaker.

President Obama has been pushing the House to bring the legislation to a vote, saying, “Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.”  In agreement with this sentiment, I would like to make clear how ludicrous the opposition’s claims are. ENDA’s opponents seem to believe that how hard someone works correlates with whom they love. They seem to believe that laziness is fostered in loving the same sex. If such biased logic is what stands in the way of ENDA, then I can only call these opponents bigots.

While the House is twiddling its thumbs, businesses are taking matters into their own hands. Companies such as Apple, Google, and even Starbucks have already begun to adopt LGBT-friendly workplaces. Furthermore, ENDA is supported by 90% of Fortune 500 companies as well as some small businesses. They understand that allowing for diversity in the workplace will open up interaction with more customers and will increase productivity. Unfortunately, many companies still allow gays, lesbians, transgenders, and bisexuals to be fired for being who they are. Without ENDA these people are unable to seek legal recourse and will continue to be at the mercy of discriminatory policies.

John Boehner and bigotry are like inseparable twins: when you have one, you get the other. He is entitled to have anti-gay sentiments, but the rest of the nation should be allowed to bridge the equality gap.