HRC Blog

Why John Boehner is Wrong on ENDA

Post submited by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

House Speaker John Boehner again today offered a false and factually inaccurate explanation for why he won’t support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – which passed the Senate one week ago with bipartisan support from ten Republicans. Boehner re-iterated his opposition to the legislation that would simply protect hardworking lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans from workplace discrimination, saying it would lead to frivolous lawsuits and wrongly claiming that such protections already exist.

“The late, great Senator Moynihan of New York said that everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. “It’s shocking that Speaker Boehner, entrusted by the people to make laws, is so fundamentally mistaken about what’s currently on the books. The Speaker is flat out wrong on the facts and the law.”

This is not the first time Speaker Boehner has disseminated misinformation about ENDA. He did so most recently right before the bill’s successful Senate passage last week. Here’s why John Boehner is still wrong on ENDA:

ENDA will not lead to an increase in lawsuits

  • ENDA will not lead to an increase in frivolous lawsuits. In fact, a July 2013 GAO report looking at employment complaints in states with sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination policies in place found no major uptick in complaints filed.
  • A top leader at General Mills directly rebuffed this faulty premise when it was raised during a June 2012 hearing about ENDA on Capitol Hill, telling lawmakers: “Not at all. Again, it's absolutely not been an issue for us. You know, frequently, we talk about the cost of this legislation in terms of accommodations and potential litigation. There is a real cost that all U.S. companies are paying right now in terms of loss of engagement when employees are in fear, loss of productivity when they can't concentrate on bringing their whole self to their work every day, and loss of talent because of these artificial barriers to entry. 

 There currently aren’t adequate workplace protections for LGBT people

  • There is no state law in 29 states prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, or in 33 states based on gender identity. For far too many LGBT Americans, there is simply no legal remedy when they are denied a job, denied a promotion or fired simply because of who they are.
  • There is nothing “special” about the protections created by ENDA. The bill simply embodies the longstanding, deeply American principle that people should be judged at work solely on their merits. It closely follows the longstanding federal workplace protections for individuals based on race, sex, religion or disability.

Discrimination is a very real problem for LGBT people

  • In testimony before the Senate HELP Committee, academic experts have outlined recent national surveys of LGBT people that show 42 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual people, and 78 percent of transgender people, have experienced mistreatment on the job because of who they are.
  • In addition, studies show significant wage disparities between LGBT and heterosexual people, with one analysis showing gay men make 10 to 32 percent less than their straight counterparts.

Businesses big and small back ENDA

  • More than 100 Fortune 500s and other major companies support ENDA through HRC’s Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness. Leaders at these companies have testified on Capitol Hill, spoken out in the media and put internal practices in place that show they take seriously the American values embodied in the legislation.
  • ENDA includes a small business exemption – but even small business owners support the legislation. In the run-up to the Senate vote, nearly 500 small business owners from across the country signed letters to their Senators expressing support for ENDA.

Learn more about ENDA – and why this legislation is so necessary – at www.hrc.org/enda.

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