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Employment Non-Discrimination Act

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The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a proposed U.S. federal law that would prohibit discrimination against employees by their employers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, California[1], Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin have state laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Proponents of the law intend it to address cases where gay, lesbian and/or transgender employees have been discriminated against by their employer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, these employees are unable to find protection in the judicial system, because sexual orientation and gender identity are not recognized under federal law as protected from employment discrimination.

Opponents of the law often argue that sexual orientation is a choice, unlike other protected factors such as gender and race, and thus should not be equally protected. They also often argue that homosexuality is “unnatural” or “immoral”. They also often present religious arguments against the law.

Previous versions of ENDA have not included provisions that protect transgender and intersex people from discrimination. While ENDA has not been introduced in the current Congress, the latest version of the proposed legislation does contain such provisions, and in August 2004, the Human Rights Campaign – an LGBT organization that is among the primary lobbyists for the bill – announced that it will only support passage of ENDA if it included gender identity protections as well.

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