- November 4, 2013
Senator Jeff Merkley, who has led the charge on this week’s Senate vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, said today in an interview with The Huffington Post that he is feeling “cautiously optimistic."
The entire Democratic caucus and a number of Republicans have indicated they will vote in support of ENDA, legislation that aims to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.
"We are engaged with a number of folks who have some little tweaks here and there that they'd like to see, and some of them are quite reasonable, and we're trying to bring everybody forward together to find that magic point,” said Merkley in the interview. "That sort of change does not compromise anything about the core nature of this bill at all. And there have been some other changes requested that would essentially gut the bill. Obviously we've indicated that those changes wouldn't be possible."
Merkley first took up the mantle for workplace opportunity in 2009, after his predecessor, Senator Ted Kennedy asked him to continue to his fight for LGBT workplace protections.
Thanks in part to Merkley’s leadership, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has broad support from both sides of the aisle, and is supported by over 70 percent of American voters.
"He has gone senator to senator, had conversations with the folks he needed to move ... he just never let up," HRC Vice President for Government Affairs Allison Herwitt said of Merkley. "He has spent an enormous amount of personal time doing what needs to be done."
Right now in 29 states, there is no state law protecting a gay, lesbian or bisexual person from being fired just because of who they are – and the same is true in 33 states for transgender people.
Read Merkley’s interview in its entirety at The Huffington Post.