Gay rights advocates have been trying to get Congress to move legislation extending workplace protection to gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender people for nearly two decades. Finally, on Wednesday, a Senate Committee approved legislation that would do just that — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
The ayes included three of the committee’s Republican members — Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mark Kirk of Illinois — refreshing bipartisanship and encouraging progress even if enactment doesn’t come this year. (Passage of the bill by the full Senate remains uncertain and the House Republican leadership isn’t even planning to bring it up).
There would be a lot more reason to cheer, though, if the bill did not include an egregiously broad religious exemption, ignoring the concern expressed in a May 10 editorial that it would leave too many jobs outside the measure’s protection, in effect authorizing discrimination the bill is supposed to remedy.