Mark Udall welcomed today's bipartisan vote in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, calling it an important step toward ensuring all hardworking Americans are evaluated at work based on their job performance and not whom they love or their gender identity. Udall said this important vote clears the way for the nation to follow in the steps of some its most successful businesses and Colorado, which passed a similar law in 2007.
"The American Dream rests on the idea that through hard work and perseverance, all men and women can achieve great things regardless of who they are, where they came from or whom they love. Coloradans already recognized this principle by leveling the playing field for all employees, and now the nation must follow Colorado's lead and affirm workplace equality for all," Udall said. "We all deserve to be evaluated on the quality of our work, and nothing else."
"Today's Senate vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is an important step forward for LGBT Americans across the country -- because no one should be fired or not hired on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity," said Jon Monteith, communications director for One Colorado. "And just like the state workplace protections we succeeded in passing here in Colorado, we are proud to see that ENDA is inclusive of our transgender friends. While there is still more work to be done before this bill reaches the president's desk, we celebrate today's milestone -- made possible through the leadership and steadfast support of Senator Udall."
Forty-three percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans and 90 percent of transgendered Americans have experienced some form of workplace discrimination. Colorado expanded its employment nondiscrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity in 2007, but federal law does not protect gay and transgender Americans from employment discrimination.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act builds on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by barring employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. It conveys no special treatment and mirrors the rules 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies already have in place. The legislation includes common-sense exemptions for religious institutions and some small businesses.
Udall, who led the push to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," has also been a vocal advocate of striking down discriminatory and misguided laws against committed, married gay couples on both the state and federal level, including California's Proposition 8. Earlier this year Udall signed onto a legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court calling the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and a denial of equal protection. Udall then welcomed the court's decision earlier this summer striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.