Long-awaited legislation that would protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives on Apr 24. The federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007, more commonly known as ENDA, is sponsored by Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Barney Frank (D-MA); Deborah Pryce (R-OH); and Chris Shays (R-CT).
Only 17 states and the District of Columbia now protect gay men and lesbians in the workplace, though the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their corporate non-discrimination policies. Protections based on gender identity are extended in only 10 states.
The current version of the bill is the first to add protections for transgender individuals. The military, most small businesses and religious organizations would be exempt under the legislation.
Efforts to add gay men and lesbians to federal civil rights statutes date from 1974. Attempts were again made in 1994, but dashed by Republican victories in the midterm elections.