I was interviewed on Monday in regards to the historic vote in the Senate on an inclusive ENDA bill which moved forward with strong bi-partisan support (although every single vote against it was Republican).
The resulting article has just a single phrase from my discussion with the reporter from the Times-Picayune (read it here: Bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation appears headed for Senate OK) so I figured I’d expound on my thoughts for those who care. If you’re really interested, you can also read my full testimony before the Louisiana legislature on House Bill 85 (the Louisiana Fair Employment Act) from earlier this year at the Forum’s blog: http://forumforequality.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/testimony-from-mary-griggs-to-the-house-and-governmental-affairs-committee/.
In short, I believe that qualified, hard-working employees should be recruited and retained based on their skills, qualifications, and capacity to contribute. Employment evaluations should be based on work performance not sexual orientation or gender identity.
No one should live in fear that they can be fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance nor should LGBT workers face discrimination in employment that goes beyond being fired to also include being denied promotions and experiencing harassment on the job.
Like many people I contacted my state senators in advance of the vote. Mary Landrieu had already signed up as a sponsor over the summer, so I just gave her an atta-girl!
And, in the other corner, here is Senator David Vitter’s response:
Thank you for contacting me in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I appreciate knowing your views on this issue.
As you may know, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would prohibit discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This legislation is directed specifically at providing federal legal protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees.
While I strictly oppose discrimination in all forms, I do not believe that expanding federal civil rights protections to include lifestyle-based conduct is a prudent course of action. Despite this legislation’s well-intentioned attempt to address workplace discrimination, vague terminology and overly broad definitions could lead to serious and divisive legal issues, leaving the judiciary to interpret Congress’ intent.
I believe that Congress has an important role in the fight against discrimination and in protecting our constitutional civil rights. Please rest assured that I will continue to work to protect the civil rights of all citizens and will keep your thoughts in mind if this or similar legislation is debated by the U.S. Senate.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about issues of concern to you or your family.
Senator David Vitter
United States Senator
It is hard to get my mind around the fact that Diaper Dave is lecturing anyone about the prudency of protecting ‘lifestyle-based conduct.’
I found his letter disrespectful and offensive. If nothing else, it renewed my commitment to re-electing Mary Landrieu.
Much better are the words from President Barack Obama on his opinion piece on ENDA:
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. When Congress passes it, I will sign it into law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come.
Here’s hoping that House Speaker John Boehner gives our elected representatives a chance to vote on the bill and for a fairer United States of America.