“Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument.”
- Samuel Johnson
The Employment Non – Discrimination Act, otherwise referred to as “ENDA,” has been unsuccessfully shuffled through the halls of Congress since 1994. The controversial bill, which would decisively extend federal protection against discrimination to homosexual and transgender individuals, is currently pending in both houses of Congress. Presently, federal law offers no protection to homosexual or transgender individuals in cases of employment discrimination. While the future of the proposed and contentious legislation remains interminably suspended in the inner gears of various Congressional sub-committees, another U.S. State has joined the ranks of a progressive coalition willing to take a major step forward – Nevada.
On June 2nd, 2011, Brian Sandoval, Nevada’s Republican Governor signed into law the Transgender Employment Protection Bill, making it illegal to for employers to discriminated against transgendered individuals. Additionally, Nevada’s Governor has also expanded existing protections by signing two other bills which prohibit discrimination against homosexuals and transgendered individuals in workplace accommodation and housing. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, more than ninety percent of transgendered individuals have been subjected to some form of workplace harassment or discrimination. Although less pervasive, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation still reveals homosexual Americans to be among the most heavily discriminated against groups in the United States workforce.
Many conflicting perceptions surround this legislation as proponents argue that Congress has lagged dramatically behind a growing social consensus largely open to homosexual and transgender lifestyles. Critics assert that Congress should not be involved in such sensitive social issues or, alternatively, that it should follow, rather than set, the majority trends. With an overwhelming majority of States still providing no protection to homosexual or transgender individuals it does not seem likely that ENDA will garner enough support to become national law in the foreseeable future. Perhaps it is true that invidious prejudice cannot be dowsed with reasoned conversation. This latest development should however offer hope that, as in the past, a democratic fervor can shake the nation to overcome even the most ingrained forms of human intolerance – one state at a time.