As many wait for the Supreme Court’s decision later this term on same-sex marriages, one issue that seems to get lost in the shuffle is the fact that there is still no federal law prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation.
For employers in Connecticut, this is basically a non-issue because Connecticut has long since prohibited it. But for employers who want consistency and for those who believe that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is just outdated, the lack of a federal bill rubs some the wrong way.
Earlier this week, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut hosted his first Google Hangout. (Again, for those still new to the technology, you can get your primer here.) It is now found on YouTube.
He was kind enough to take questions over Twitter (another reason you should get on there) and responded to my question: What are the prospects for ENDA — the federal bill that would prohibit sexual orientation discrimination?
.@danielschwartz Answering your question now on ENDA #askmurphy youtube.com/watch?v=7sbecz…
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) April 22, 2013
At about the 17:15 mark of the talk, he provided an in-depth discussion about what the bill is and its prospects.
“My hope is that we see an absolute sea change in the rights of gays and lesbians in the next month or so” after the Supreme Court’s ruling next month on gay marriage, Murphy said. But “save for that action by the Supreme Court, we should pass ENDA.”
As for the prospects itself? “Not too good” given that “largely social conservative Republicans control the House of Representatives,” said Murphy.
But even in the Senate, it’s prospects were less than clear. As Murphy observed: “I bet you we could get 50 votes in the Senate” but he didn’t think there were 60 votes which is now the new magic number to get bills passed to break a potential filibuster.
“So, Daniel, I think the answer to your question is, unfortunately though you’ve got a lot of strong voices like myself, it’ll be hard to get that done.”
I thank Senator Murphy for taking the time to address this issue.
Since Murphy’s comments earlier this week, a opinion piece was also posted in the Washington Post calling for passage of ENDA.
So, while its prospects right now are weak, is Senator Murphy correct that we will see a change after the Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage? Only time will tell.