Fight for ENDA: Discrimination needs to stop

By Max Fisher

An important concern of college students is finding a rewarding career following graduation. We work hard by studying and completing internships all in an effort to build an attractive resume for our post-collegiate career searches. 

Sometimes our resumes are weaker in certain areas, which may affect the decision of the employer. For example, if your online presence is filled with indecent and unprofessional content, then potential employers may think twice before hiring you.

Nevertheless, there are some uncontrollable characteristics that employers should never be allowed to base their hiring judgments on, such as race, sex or socioeconomic status. 

Other obvious ones are sexual orientation and gender identity, but for some reason 33 states of this Union believe that sexual orientation and gender identity are characteristics that employees can be held accountable for.

That’s right, in Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and 26 other states you can be fired for being gay. And in 33 states it’s legal to fire someone for being transgender. 

These companies are essentially allowed to discriminate against potential employees because of who they love and who they are.

I was disappointed when I saw these very troubling statistics about a country that is supposed to offer life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all its citizens.  

The idea that being gay is a choice made by individuals has been refuted by scientific studies on numerous occasions. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, an organization that once deemed homosexuality a mental illness, now states that individuals have little to no choice in their sexual orientation.

Therefore, if it is not a choice made by an individual, but rather something out of their control, then these states are punishing working American citizens for being who they are.   

However, worse than the allowance of this type of discrimination itself is that there is currently legislation that would outlaw this form of discrimination in Congress’ hands, but our virtuous Speaker of the House, John Boehner, the highest-ranking lackey of the Tea Party, has spoken and declared his opposition to the legislation.

A condemnation from such a high-ranking member of the majority party in the House is pretty much a death sentence for this resolution.

Introduced by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, aims to end workplace discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. 

This type of legislation was introduced, but never passed, in every Congress since 1994 except for the 109th Congress. Our current Senate will begin debating the legislation since it recently passed the 60 vote hurdle. Additionally, President Barack Obama supports this legislation.

Speaker Boehner thinks that this bill will cause frivolous litigation against corporations that cannot be risked. Additionally, he thinks that this bill will cause harm to the American job market.

I think we need a quick fact check. 

In the 17 states that do provide this protection against discrimination, there has only been a small amount of litigation related to sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, in California, according to the Government Accountability Office, between 2007-12 there were 19,839 employee discrimination complaints. Only 1,104 of those complaints were related to sexual orientation.

Additionally, how would this be bad for American jobs? 

This bill would bar corporations from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity, meaning gays, lesbians and transgender individuals would have a better chance of getting a job in those states that previously allowed this type of discrimination. And they would have less of a chance of getting fired for being gay, lesbian or transgender.  

The fact that people are still discriminated against for things that they cannot control is truly deplorable. The members of the LGBT community have been scrutinized for far too long, and to deny them a career opportunities based on their sexual preference is ludicrous. 

This bill must pass or else the discrimination will not stop.

Max is a freshman in DGS. He can be reached [email protected]