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Employment Non-Discrimination Act passes in the Senate

Missouri residents who belong to the LBGT community are likely to be pleased to hear that the United States Senate has voted to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The goal of the act is to make workplace discrimination against LBGT individuals illegal. If the bill becomes law, sexual orientation and gender identity will be protected, along with age, disability, gender, nationality, race and sex. Only 11 states have laws that protect individuals against discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and Missouri is not one of them.

The passing of EDNA in the Senate is a landmark. It was first introduced in 1994 by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, but this is the first time the law has garnered enough votes for approval. In 2007, the House also passed a version of the act, but it did not include protection for individuals who are transgender. One representative stated that the vote brings the LBGT community and their families one step closer to equality.

One possible reason that the bill finally passed is the last second amendment that ensures that religious institutions that are exempted from the bills will not be penalized. This is likely to have brought in a number of votes from senators that may have opposed the bill otherwise. For the new legislation to become law, it must also pass the House, and the President has already issued a statement calling for the House vote on the bill.

Missouri currently has no law protecting people from discrimination in the workplace based on their sexual orientation or transgender status. If ENDA becomes law, it will apply to most businesses in the state that are not covered under the religious exemption. However, Missouri law does protect employees from discrimination based on sex, religion, race, age and pregnancy status.

Source: Huffington Post, "ENDA Vote: Senate Votes To Outlaw LGBT Workplace Discrimination", Amanda Terkel, November 07, 2013

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