In The Two Minute Drill, we will explain complex issues in politics in 250 words or less (roughly the amount of words it takes the average adult two minutes to read on a monitor). Politics just isn’t always that complicated. Without the fluff and partisan bias, even the most complex of our political differences can be explained succinctly. This week: The Push for ENDA.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would prohibit most employers from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identify. The Senate recently passed ENDA in a 64-32 bipartisan vote, a bill that has been introduced without passage in every Congress since 1994 (except the 109th). Similar legislation has been introduced since 1974. Speaker of the House John Boehner, however, recently dealt a major blow to the bill’s chances, arguing that “ample laws [are] already in place to deal with this” and that ENDA is unnecessary.
The Explanation (250 or Bust):
Speaker Boehner’s statement is patently false and he appears woefully under-educated on the discrimination LGBT people face in the American workplace.
Like Boehner, 9 out of 10 voters mistakenly believe that LGBT workers already have federal protection against employment discrimination. In reality, in many places in America it is perfectly legal to fire someone for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (only 17 and the District of Columbia do so on the basis of gender identity), meaning that in 29 states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone simply because of who they are and who they love.
LGBT employees experience widespread discrimination and harassment in the workplace and companies that don’t protect and support LGBT workers are increasingly out of step with corporate America. Similar to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, ENDA would provide comprehensive protections to LGBT workers in all 50 states.
The bill has strong bipartisan support and the support of a vast majority of Americans. As President Obama recently wrote, “It ought to be the law of the land.” Speaker Boehner’s opposition to ENDA has more to do with ignorance of the law and indifference to LGBT Americans than it has to do with substantive policy. “I haven’t seen the bill. I haven’t thought much about it,” Boehner told the Washington Blade in 2012.
Word Count: 248.
The Five Most Interesting Things We Read This Week
Here are the five most interesting articles (both political and non-political) we’ve read this week:
- “‘You could give someone broccoli bouquets’ said another of the associate creative directors, Marco Merced, a Miami native who made clear he likes his broccoli best when its smothered in cheese soup.” The inside story of Broccoli’s extreme makeover.
- You might get your health insurance for free. “Millions of people could qualify for federal subsidies that will pay the entire monthly cost of some health care plans being offered in the online marketplaces set up under President Obama’s health care law, a surprising figure that has not garnered much attention . . . .” From Reed Abelson and Katie Thomas in The New York Times.
- In the N.B.A., ZIP Code matters. But not in the way you think it does. “Growing up in a wealthier neighborhood is a major, positive predictor of reaching the NBA for both black and white men.”
- Here’s a big leak from the IPCC report on climate change. “Climate change will pose sharp risks to the world’s food supply in coming decades, potentially undermining crop production and driving up prices at a time when the demand for food is expected to soar, scientists have found. In a departure from an earlier assessment, the scientists concluded that rising temperatures will have some beneficial effects on crops in some places, but that globally they will make it harder for crops to thrive – perhaps reducing production over all by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century, compared with what it would be without climate change.” From Justin Gillis in The New York Times.
- “We’ll really miss you Mrs. K.” The Simpsons paid tribute to Marcia Wallace, the voice of teacher Mrs. Krabappel who died Oct. 25, in the show’s opening Sunday night. From The Hollywood Reporter.
And in case you missed it, check out The Weekly Column. This past week covered the prospects of immigration reform passing through Congress. Read the Column – House Not Likely to Act on Immigration Reform Until 2015.