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Senator Collins joins a bi-partisan group of Senators calling for hearings on bill to prohibit GLBT discrimination

Today, a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators, which includes Susan Collins, called for Senate hearings regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would make it unlawful under federal law for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The text of the Senators’ letter to the Senate health and labor committee stated, in part:

“ENDA would prohibit most workplaces in the United States, with exemptions for religious institutions, private membership clubs and certain small businesses, from discriminating against potential and existing employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As strong supporters of this legislation, we urge you to schedule a time for Committee members to consider this proposed legislation.”

“ENDA embodies the American ideal of fairness: employees should be judged on their skills and abilities in the workplace, and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While some states prohibit public and private employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, recent studies have found evidence of continued widespread employment discrimination against LGBT people. Sadly, it is still legal for businesses in many states to fire someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In response to the Senators’ letter, the chairman of the Senate health and labor committee, Senator Harkin, decided to grant their request for a hearing stating as follows:

“Every American deserves an equal opportunity to earn a good living, judged by their talent, ability and qualifications free from discrimination. Workplace discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity is reprehensible and has no place in our nation. This upcoming HELP Committee hearing will provide an excellent opportunity to build on the Committee’s previous work and help advance our shared goal of equal rights for all Americans. I am hopeful that working together, we will reach a point where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons enjoy the same rights and protections, and full equality, as all our fellow Americans.”