THE HOUSE IS COOKING WITH GAS - ENDA AND PERU PASS
WASHINGTON -- It has been another landmark few days in the U.S. House of Representatives with the passage of two more pieces of major legislation in two days.
The first is a civil rights bill thirty years in the making. The Employee Non-Discrimination Act will extend the employment protections all of us are afforded on the basis of our race, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability to gay, lesbian and bisexual employees. This bill has been introduced in every Congress since 1975. But, it has not been voted on and passed in the House until this year. It brings us one step closer to the ideal of equality for all Americans. This is a major achievement for the 110th Congress.
Congressman John B. Larson said:
"Every person in our country deserves protection from being fired, or overlooked for a job because of who they are. Whether its race, gender or sexual orientation, we should all be able to pursue our dreams and earn a living. After thirty years, this Congress has managed to put together legislation that received bipartisan support to give gay, lesbian and bisexual employees some of the civil rights they are due. This is a great show of strength for this Democratic Congress. While I supported the Baldwin amendment that would include gender identity in the list of protected attributes, I am thrilled with the progress we have made today. Absolute equality for all Americans is a work in progress and today's vote brought us a significant leap closer to that ideal."
The second piece of legislation passed by the House today was a revolutionary take on free trade agreements. The trade agreement with Peru that the House approved today sets a new bar for labor and environmental protections. Peru has agreed to a fully enforceable commitment to abide by the five basic international labor standards including:
Freedom of association;
The right to collective bargaining;
Elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor;
Abolition of child labor; and the
Elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupations.
Congressman John Larson said:
"The Peru Free Trade agreement gives those of who opposed CAFTA an opportunity to incorporate the worker rights protections we have fought for into trade legislation. This is like the New Deal of trade agreements. And, I am thrilled to be part of a Ways and Means Committee that made it happen. "