Should the House vote on nondiscrimination legislation?

U.S. Capitol
U.S. Capitol by Victoria Pickering via Flickr

“A measure that would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity overcame a significant obstacle in the Senate on Monday as seven Republicans crossed party lines and voted to begin debate on the bill,” reports the New York Times.

The 61-30 vote marks the first time since 1996 that the full Senate will consider a measure to extend federal nondiscrimination law to gay, lesbian and bisexual people — a stark reminder, supporters said, that as the public has come around to accepting gay rights, Congress has been slow to keep pace.

It is also the first time that either house of Congress has voted on a nondiscrimination bill that includes transgender people. …

Despite passing this procedural test, the fate of the bill remained uncertain. The Republican-controlled House was already signaling that the bill was going nowhere fast. Even before the Senate could act on Monday, Speaker John A. Boehner said through his spokesman that the bill “will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs.”

Nondiscrimination legislation including sexual orientation and gender identity has languished in Congress for nearly 40 years.

  • Gary F

    I guess the whole Obamacare thing and the deficit, and Syria, have all be figured out.

    • JQP

      Seriously. Like Congress can only function on issues in a conga-line ? If you give them that low a bar for completion …. no wonder they don’t get anything done.

      • Gary F

        When things get too difficult and tough decisions have to be made, they switch to easy, feel good legislation.

      • Jim G

        I love the visualization of the conga line. The only time I’ve ever danced in one was at my wedding reception… and I was in the lead. Da da da da …Da Da!

  • JQP

    Yes. Everything they have in front of them should be voted on based on its own merits. The insidiously stupid idea that you can’t have judges or executives appointed because some senators cough-drop factory isn’t getting enough assistance is patently wrong.

  • Sue de Nim

    It would be great if each house of Congress could be required to bring to the floor any bill passed by the other, with no filibuster alowed in the Senate, and no Hastert Rule roadblock in the House. However, that would require a constitutional amendment, because each house is currently allowed to make up its own rules.

  • Rich in Duluth

    Yes, of course. Non-discrimination should be extended to every significant minority in this country.

    I also think that exempting religious organizations from non-discrimination legislation is ridiculous. What is so…sacred about bigotry within religion?

    • Sue de Nim

      If the bill didn’t exempt religious organizations, the SCOTUS would eventually carve out a 1st Amendment exception anyway, so it might as well be in the law to start with.

      • Rich in Duluth

        Yes, that may be, but the question remains. What is so sacred about bigotry within religion?


    • Jamie

      Freedom of association – look it up.

      Churches, in particular, have a right to choose to associate only with people of the same belief or people struggling to understand God through the particular prism of their belief system. Would you force a Hindu temple to hire a Muslim imam or a Catholic church to hire a Jewish rabbi? By not considering them as potential hires, are they not discriminating against them based on their beliefs and actions?

      When you believe that performing a particular act is sinful in nature, you have a right not to be associated with the person performing that act and you have a right not to have that person represent your organization. Whether you agree that the act is sinful doesn’t matter. It’s not up to you.

      • Rich in Duluth

        Okay, point taken, freedom of association is very a basic right.

        But then these organizations should give up their tax exempt status…or have it taken away. Why should government, which is supposed to protect the rights of all of our citizen, support, through low or no taxes, organizations that discriminate against minorities?

  • Bill

    I don’t understand what sexual orientation has to do with work and why do I have to know what sexual orientation you are? Why should sexual orientation given more protection under the law than anything else.

    • Sue de Nim

      Because of the history of unjust discrimination, duh. Why should sexual orientation be given less protection than race, religion, gender or national origin? Or would you like to abolish the law protecting those classes, too?

      • Bill

        I don’t need to know you’re gay.

  • Scott44

    The sad part about this is that we need laws saying “DO NOT DISCRIMINATE!”. Really what needs to be done is figure out how to get out of the mess this country is in.

  • Jim G

    Yes. The refusal to pass a nondiscrimination bill really shows us the priorities in Congress don’t make sense to the average voter. It is one of the reasons that public approval, especially of the House under the crippled Speaker’s leadership, languishes in single digits.

  • PaulJ

    Sure, why not? Sort of odd telling people who they can associate with, but you can’t have some people getting away with being mean.

    • Hey Der

      Sort of odd? Telling people who they MUST associate with is beyond sort of odd. It’s tyrannical. Government should be subject to nondiscrimination laws in the application of law. Private citizens should be able to choose with whom they associate.

      • lily

        So I guess employers should be able to fire someone based on their race, religion, gender, or national origin? Not hire any black people? Never promote any women? We had so much more freedom back when those things were legal… /s

        • Luke

          Would you shop, eat or in any way use the services of a company that used those criteria? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

          I’d rather know a company was run by bigots, so I can run them out of the market with my spending decisions than use government to force them to pretend they are not bigots.

          Which one actually gets rid of bigots faster?

          But it would mean you would need to pay attention to who you engage in trade with. Can’t have that. Much easier to punt to the government than take personal responsibility.

        • Hey Der

          I can only speak for myself, but race, religion, gender and sexual orientation are non-factors in hiring or firing. Here’s what I’m looking for:

          Can the person do the job? (Do they have the work ethic, education, experience, maturity, poise, etc?)

          Is there a possibility the person can advance within their position or to another position? (will they stay long enough to make the time commitment of getting them up to speed worth it?)

          How will the person help my company?

          Is there anything special about the person that would help open new sales opportunities? (and here’s where you might actually get bonus points for being outside the norm)

          How will the person relate to our existing staff/customers? (and potentially get those bonus points reduced if you’re too far outside the norm – like if you had a face tattoo, it’s too far outside the box for our customers)

          Don’t try to convert me to your religion. Don’t harass me because I’m a different color. I don’t need to hear about your sex life – straight or gay. It doesn’t belong here. Be who you are, but you don’t have to be boorish about it.

          I don’t want another BS bureaucratic requirement to have to fulfill in hiring. “Oh no, we lost our gay guy. We have to find another one.” That’s no way to run a business.

  • Walter

    Wait, wait, OK.. if I hire a person because they are qualified for the job and after they are working for me the person tells me that he/she is gay. Because of this law that person now has more protection than someone who is not gay. It would be smart to tell your employer that you are gay. It will be harder to fire you even for incompetence.
    How do you know someone is not gay but say they are gay?

  • Pearly

    If you like your discrimination you get to keep it. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.