Hit & Run

Federal Contractor Ban on Anti-Gay Discrimination Prepped; Meanwhile, ENDA Dies Again

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Making sure gays are not left out of incredibly wasteful spending projects.
Credit: Tony Webster / photo on flickr

The Department of Labor has announced its rule change for federal contractors that will prohibit them from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The rule will go into effect in 120 days and also requires contractors to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their equal opportunity statements when they advertise positions.

The new rule does not require that contractors set up quotas or collect statistical data on the basis of the two categories. It also does not change the exemptions for religious organizations that have federal contracts. BuzzFeed has the order posted here for anybody who wants to read it (nobody wants to read it, but just in case).

Meanwhile, as everybody probably expected, last-minute efforts by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) rushed through Congress have failed. This would be the legislation that would outlaw private discrimination against gay and transgender employees at most workplaces, not just those with federal contracts, and has failed to pass for years now. Polis tried to push it through as an amendment to a defense authorization bill, but it didn't fly, and according to the Washington Blade, he wasn't even at the House Rules Committee meeting meeting when it came up, even though he's a member.

The Blade suspects ENDA will get end up adrift in the Republican wave taking control of Congress and will see little movement during the next term, even though it has some GOP supporters:

Last year, the Senate passed a version of ENDA on a bipartisan basis by a 64-32 vote, but the House never brought up the measure for a vote and is set to adjourn by Dec. 11. It's unlikely the bill will come up when Congress reconvenes for the 114th Congress given major election wins by Republican on Election Day.

The version of ENDA with which Polis tried to amend the defense bill had a religious exemption along the lines of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a Polis aide said. Unlike the version of ENDA the Senate passed last year, the Polis measure would bar LGBT discrimination at religious-affiliated businesses for non-ministerial positions.

I don't imagine ENDA passing without strong exception for religiously affiliated businesses. Not that I support ENDA anyway—read my concerns about what it means for freedom of association here.

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