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Obama puts pressure on Congress to pass anti-discrimination law

by CAROLINE GAVURA Section Editor

President Obama is urging Congress to pass a law that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone when hiring or firing them based on their sexual orientation. The law is designed to add on to the existing law that protects people against discrimination of their race, disability, or gender in the workplace.

The President created a blog post on the evening of November 3, asking lawmakers to vote “yes” for the new Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) bill.

“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 wrote.

ENDA was brought to Congress before in 1996, but failed by one vote. This time around, President Obama is making it a priority for the bill to be passed.

Americans for Workplace Opportunity found through a series of polls that a large majority of Americans support the idea of a federal law that would end discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation.

If the ENDA bill is passed, it will be one of the most influential laws passed since Congress repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, which kept gay people out of the military.

“I really hope that the ENDA bill is passed. It is ridiculous that something like this has not been put into law yet. Everyone should be treated equally in the workplace, no matter what sexual orientation or gender identity you are,” said senior Kylie Scannella.

The same night as the President, Apple CEO Tim Cook also pressed Congress to vote “yes” by writing an open letter to the “Wall Street Journal”.

“Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection. But ultimately we all pay a price. If our coworkers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves. When that happens, we undermine people’s potential and deny ourselves and our society the full benefits of those individuals’ talents,” Cook wrote.

The bill is quickly gaining support from both Democrats and Republicans, which is a good sign that ENDA will be passed when it is sent to the House of Representatives.

“With support from both parties, hopefully the bill will be passed this week. No one deserves to get fired because of who they love or what they believe their sexual identity is,” said junior Corinne Franchette.

Do you think the ENDA bill should be passed when it is sent to Congress? Why or why not?

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