Non-discrimination advances


Don’t cry for ENDA, America, the truth is it never left you…the fight is just shifting to the state level (with disingenuous apologies to Andrew Lloyd Webber). Specifically, issues surrounding the long-proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act are moving to Missouri, Virginia, and Kansas, whose legislatures are all considering expanding employment protections to LGBT workers in various forms.

First, the Virginia Senate yesterday passed a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the state workforce that will “almost certainly die” in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, according to the Washington Post.

While the two previous governors had issued executive orders to the same effect, the current governor has refused to renew the orders, saying they overstep the governor’s authority, conveniently rolling back the status quo and passing the buck on responsibility.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Senate passed a broader bill out of committee on Friday that would include sexual orientation and gender identity in the state’s non-discrimination statute. The HRC is hopeful the bill will pass, given that 79 percent of Kansans think it’s wrong to fire someone for their sexual orientation.

Lastly, LGBT Missourians are looking forward to the introduction this legislative session of a similar non-discrimination bill that’s laid dormant for eight years.

It’s not real clear if there’s a nation-wide push from state-based LGBT organizations for these kinds of laws, but with the federal ENDA effort all but dead until the next election cycle, activists’ energies will have to find a new focus.