Friday, November 6, 2009

Sen. Merkley Takes Leadership on Moving ENDA Forward

As I've said on several occasions before, Oregon should be extremely proud of the work that its junior Senator -- Jeff Merkley -- is doing during his first term in the US Senate. Not only has he been a strong advocate for making sure that all Americans have access to affordable health care, but he's also working extremely hard to make sure that people can not be discriminated against based solely upon who they love.

In a post that he wrote over at Blue Oregon, he was asked by Senator Kennedy's office to take the lead on the Employee Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prevent hardworking Americans from being fired or denied employment just because they're lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This is an important issue which absolutely must be passed and is one that I will be focusing a lot of attention on as the process moves forward. Now Merkley freely admits that we have a lot on the table right now, but he's absolutely correct when he wrote that this is an issue that MUST be addressed.
At this point in history, it’s easy to overlook or downplay acts of discrimination in America, but sadly, prejudice is still very much alive in our country. I think my colleagues generally agree that discrimination of any sort isn’t to be tolerated in America. The challenge will be educating others to the fact that this type of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is indeed a problem and that preventing and responding to it is not only the right moral course, but is also in the best interest of our communities and our businesses.

With so many issues on the national agenda, I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed with myriad bill titles, committee hearings, and cloture votes. But, ENDA is worth paying close attention to and worth rallying behind as we move forward on this bill in Congress. Ensuring that all Americans are free from discrimination in the workplace is a crucial step towards equal justice for all Americans.
Now these aren't just words coming from Sen. Merkley, he's actually taking leadership on the issue and is working hard towards moving the legislation forward. For instance, Merkley played a huge role in making sure that the HELP Committee held a hearing on ENDA. This is the first time that one was held since 2002, and was the first one that was addressing a fully inclusive ENDA.

The following video provides just a brief glimpse into why this is such an important piece of legislation. I personally want to thank Sen. Merkley for taking leadership on ENDA and encourage everyone to do the same.

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