The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would protect LGBT people from getting fired or discriminated against on the job, has been left off the 2015 defense spending bill in a 7-3 vote in a House committee. Translated: it’s the end of the road for this workplace equality bill in particular, but not for the fight for workplace equality overall.
According to research by the Center for American Progress, 1 in 10 LGB workers have been fired for their sexual orientation, and as many as 47% of trans people have been fired, not hired or denied a promotion for being trans. The report also stated that “In 14 states, individuals can legally marry their same-sex partner on Sunday and then legally be fired from their jobs on Monday simply for exercising that right.”
Now that ENDA’s dead, there’s been a push to start the legislation process again with a better bill and a better strategy. This past Wednesday, the Center for American Progress (CAP) held an event that featured keynote speaker Sen. Jeff Merkley, who was the main champion of ENDA in the Senate. In his address, Merkley pledged to introduce a new, more comprehensive bill, which he called the “Equality Act of 2015.” Unlike ENDA, the Equality Act would aim to provide nondiscrimination protections in areas beyond employment, including “public accommodations, housing, jury service, and financial transactions for LGBT Americans.” In a statement to TIME, Merkeley said, “It can’t be right that people are thrown out of their rental housing because of their LGBT status or can be denied entry to a movie theater or to a restaurant. That simply is wrong and we need to take on this broader agenda.” As far as religious exemptions, the Equality Act intends to use the narrow religious exemptions that are already in place for categories like race, instead of the broad exemptions that made it into the final versions of ENDA.
Just one little bump. This fight isn’t over.