President Barack Obama has called on Congress to pass legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a blog post published Sunday evening on the Huffington Post, Obama urged lawmakers to vote yes on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The Senate is expected to have a cloture vote on the bill Monday.
"In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what Martin Luther King Jr. called 'the content of their character.' That's what ENDA helps us do," Obama writes.
He adds: "When Congress passes it, I will sign it into law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come."
Read the full blog post here.
ENDA was last brought to a vote in the Senate in 1996, failing by just a single vote.
It has heavy Democratic support and in July passed a Senate committee with Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mark Kirk of Illinois voting in favor of it.
Recent polling from the Americans for Workplace Opportunity found the overwhelming majority of Americans support a federal law preventing workplace discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation.
The legislation provides exceptions for religious groups and the military.
ENDA would be the most substantial gay rights law passed by Congress since the repeal in 2010 of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” prohibition on gay people in uniform.
First published November 3 2013, 8:20 PM