Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) called the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by the Senate a key step toward ensuring equality in the workplace for all Americans. Earlier today, Sen. Franken spoke on the Senate floor, urging his colleagues to support and pass the bill. You can download a video of his speech here and a copy of his remarks here.
ENDA, which Sen. Franken has supported since coming to the Senate, passed the Senate today 64-to-32. The bill prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. A similar law has been in place in Minnesota for over 20 years.
"Four years ago, I said that I hoped my grandkids would only read about when it was legal to fire someone because they were gay or transgender," said Sen. Franken. "Today, we're one step closer toward making that equality a reality for all Americans.
"It's long past time that LGBT employees around the country are guaranteed the same rights that they've had in Minnesota for 20 years. For LGBT Minnesotans, it has meant that they don't have to live in fear of being fired, or discriminated against in hiring, just because of who they are or whom they love. That's a big deal.
"I will continue fighting to get this signed into law to ensure vital workplace protections, and I urge the House to take up and pass the bill in a timely manner."
Sen. Franken has been a longtime advocate of ensuring equality for all LGBT Americans. In addition to pushing for the passage of ENDA, he fought successfully in 2010 to help overturn the discriminatory Don't Ask Don't Tell policy that prevented openly LGBT Americans from serving in the military.
And this past March, Sen. Franken and a number of his colleagues in the House and Senate filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging the Court to overturn a key section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because it violated individuals' rights to equal protection under the law by denying federal benefits to same-sex couples and their children. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that key part of DOMA, finding it unconstitutional.
Sen. Franken is also a supporter of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would fully repeal DOMA and restore the federal benefits of marriage to all lawfully married couples-including tens of thousands of same-sex couples.