U.S. Senate Passes Employment Non-Discrimination Act - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

U.S. Senate Passes Employment Non-Discrimination Act

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The U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on Thursday with a 64-32 vote including 10 Republicans joining 52 Democrats and two independents voting yes.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 61 to 30 to consider the ENDA bill with strong bipartisan support including from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

The Human Rights Campaign spearheaded the "grassroots" operation in the state mobilizing thousands of constituents in recent weeks to speak their opinions on the legislation.

In West Virginia alone, HRC members sent 400 emails to Manchin in addition to 1,100 phone calls and over 2,000 personalized postcards.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said Tuesday he was against the discrimination in all forms.

"All people are created equally and they deserve to be treated fairly," the senator and co-sponsor to the act said in a statement Tuesday. "We should never hold people back or limit them because of who they are."

Chad Griffin, HRC president, said Tuesday Americans saw democracy in action with the senate vote.

"With a super majority of senators, more than 100 major American companies and more than two-thirds of Americans all standing proudly in support of ENDA, there is tremendous momentum behind this common-sense bill," Griffin said. "(The senate members are) finally following the will of a diverse and bipartisan collection of Americans calling for workplace fairness."

Tuesday's procedural move set up the historical vote for Thursday when the senate passed the bill for the first time in the legislation's history.

HRC contributed $2 million to the effort hiring 30 field organizers in seven key states.

Rockefeller took to his Twitter account to say on Thursday "the Senate passed ENDA to end workplace discrimination against LGBT workers. No one should be held back or limited because of who they are."

Meanwhile, the West Virginia National Guard was included in acting a different non-discriminatory policy.

Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-67th, confirmed he requested information and had been briefed by National Guard leaders regarding the state's implementation of the Department of Defense benefits for spouses including issuing identification cards to same sex spouses.

"West Virginia took the appropriate steps to review the implementation issues while respecting the rights of service members" Skinner said. "I have great respect for the history and tradition of professionalism of the West Virginia National Guard."
Skinner believes the DOD may have prematurely criticized West Virginia without understanding the review that the West Virginia National Guard needed to.
Skinner is the first openly gay member of the West Virginia Legislature.

President Barack Obama issued a statement on Thursday about the passing of the bill.
"For more than two centuries, the story of our nation has been the story of more citizens realized the rights and freedoms that are our birthright as Americans," the president said. "Today, a bipartisan majority in the Senate took another important step in this journey by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would help end the injustice of our fellow Americans being denied a job or fired just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."
"Today's victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago."
"I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and sent it to my desk so I can sign it into law," Obama continued. "On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans."