Sen. Dean Heller comes out for ENDA

Surprise, surprise, surprise. Nevada’s GOP Sen. Dean Heller has come out in favor of — and yesterday voted for — the national Employment Non Discrimination Act (or ENDA) legislation currently causing controversy in Congress. Indeed, he cited Nevada’s early adoption of a state-level ENDA — strengthened in recent legislative sessions to add better protections for transgender people — as a reason to support anti-discrimination protection for all Americans.

From Huffington Post:

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) announced his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on Monday, making it increasingly likely that the bill will get the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.

“After listening to Nevadans’ concerns about this issue from a variety of viewpoints and after numerous conversations with my colleagues, I feel that supporting this legislation is the right thing to do,” Heller said in a statement.

He cited the progress that had already been made in his home state, saying Nevada “has established a solid foundation of anti-discrimination laws.”

“This legislation raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstance,” Heller said.

Hopefully, Heller can explain just what ENDA does to a seemingly confused Rep. John Boehner who seems to think we don’t need ENDA because we need ENDA (?). Or something. His reasons for confusion actually confuse me so much I can’t even explain them:

Preventing employers from firing workers simply because they are gay would “increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs,” according to a spokesperson for Speaker John Boehner. But never fear, such a law would also do absolutely nothing because “existing law” already prohibits employers from firing LGBT workers, according to an aide to Speaker Boehner.

Confused? The Speaker of the House sure appears to be. Clearly, it cannot both be the case that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which bans anti-gay discrimination in the workplace, is both a fount of costly litigation and an irrelevancy that will do nothing at all.

Unfortunately, Boehner’s office’s claim that it’s already illegal to fire gay people is a common misconception — a recent poll found that 69 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that a law like ENDA is already in place. In reality, there is no law protecting gay, lesbian and bisexual workers from being fired in 29 states, and transgender workers are unprotected in 33 states.

So … yeah. There’s that.

Here’s hoping for progress on ENDA soon!

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