Ex. 5.9 –

The Senate passed a bill this past week that places a ban on workplace discrimination against gays, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender workers.

With the tally resulting in 64-32 vote, the decision reflects the modern day views towards gay rights after many bills that have come before to support gay rights were usually rejected. Young LGBT students are part of the workplace discrimination that happens every day and many feel this is a step forward to equality.

Although the bill passed the Senate, the House of Representatives must agree with legislation. Speaker of the House John Boehner has expressed opposition to the bill stating that it will “increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” according to his spokesman Michael Steel.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or EDNA, will help prevent employers from placing employees into situations where they are mistreated or fired because of their sexual preference.

However the bill does contain limitations, four years ago at John Brown University, a private Christian college in Arkansas, where an assistant professor named Jason Hough was forced to resign after the college learned he was gay.

The bill will does not apply to religious institutions such as John Brown University. The exemption covers a wide range of employers, from churches to schools to non-profit groups, giving these employers the ability to discriminate simply based on the employees sexual preference.

Hough was recently interviewed in The Huffington Post and spoke on the bill and what happened to him. “What happened really sucked and was really unfair, the way the current law is formed, we’re actually helping perpetuate this sort of belief system,” Hough said.

The reason the bill does not contain the religious employers clause is because of fear that the law would infringe on religious liberties. Various groups have stated that the religious institutions exemption undermines the purpose of the bill.

“LGBT workplace discrimination happens every day, across the county in all kinds of companies, in all kinds of institutions, and ENDA is useful and it is needed,” said Heather Cronk, co-director of GetEQUAL, an advocacy group that opposes the religious exemption. “These broad exemptions provide some protections for some people, but not the people who need it the most.”

Kahveh Kheymehdooz, a former De Anza student who is an accounting major in his senior year at San Jose State University, spoke to me about the discrimination he faced during his time at Fry’s Electronics.

“My manager consistently nit-picked everything about me in order to fire me, he only started doing this after he asked if I was gay, and I answered him honestly,” Kheymehdooz said. “After that, he moved me out of the department into one where I would fail, I quit and came back a month later, I asked him honestly and he said he did have a problem with me being gay.”

Situations such as Kheymehdooz’s are not uncommon, gay employees have faced discrimination not only from employers but customers as well.

Although the bill has a majority of public support, it’s chances to be approved in the House of Representatives is slim.

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