WASHINGTON -- During his fifth State of the Union address tonight televised nationwide, President Barack Obama failed to call for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to guarantee workplace equality for LGBT workers.
However, the White House tonight issued a fact sheet with numerous goals that Obama outlined for 2014, and that included this passage regarding ENDA:
Today, federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, sex, religion, and disability. It’s time to add sexual orientation and gender identity to that list, so that no American worker can lose his or her job simply because of who they are or who they love. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would provide strong federal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers. Last year, a bipartisan majority of the Senate passed ENDA, and the President renews his call for the House to do the same."
ENDA has been proposed and debate for years, but the bill has never been passed by both chambers of Congress. Last year, a bipartisan majority of the Senate passed ENDA and the bill was sent to the Republican-controlled House, where it has been ignored.
In the fact sheet, Obama renewed his call for the House to join the Senate in passing ENDA. To read a White House fact sheet, click HERE.
The Human Rights Campaign reacted with disappointment after the State of the Union speech.
“The President’s message tonight failed to address the needs of LGBT workers looking for a fair shake in this economy. Not only was there no call for the House to pass a federal law to protect LGBT workers nationwide, President Obama also sidestepped his commitment to take action where Congress has left off, leaving out an order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors," said Chad Griffin, HRC president.
"Unfortunately, President Obama missed a real opportunity to use the State of the Union to improve the lives of LGBT people by taking immediate executive action to address anti-LGBT discrimination for the millions of Americans employed by federal contractors. No federal contractor like ExxonMobil should be able to take billions in taxpayer dollars without safeguards in place to prevent discrimination. The President promised this action in 2007 and we will continue to work with him and Congress to ensure that all Americans can contribute to the economy without fear of anti-LGBT discrimination.”
HRC noted that there are no laws in 29 states that prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the same is true for 33 states on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.