June 10, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Reid looks to take up ENDA ‘soon’ in Pride statement
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he looks forward to taking up ENDA 'soon' (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he looks forward to taking up ENDA ‘soon.’ (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement commemorating June as Pride month that he looks forward to taking up  the long-sought Employment Non-Discrimination Act ”soon” in the Senate.

Reid expressed interest in ENDA on Monday while reflecting on state law in Nevada, which prohibits job bias on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Finally, while Nevada has taken steps to ensure that individuals cannot be fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, in many states, no such protections exist,” Reid said. “I look forward to taking up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) soon, to prohibit such job discrimination across the nation.”

Advocates have been pushing for a Senate vote on ENDA. Senate Health, Education Labor & Pensions Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has pledged to move the bill out of committee this year, and a mark-up is expected in the summer.

Also in his statement, Reid reflected on the addition of transgender protections to the state’s hate crimes statute and the Nevada Assembly’s approval of an amendment to repeal the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the state.

The Democratic leader also takes note of the pending lawsuit before the Supreme Court targeting the Defense of Marriage Act and says he hopes that DOMA is struck down when the Supreme Court hands down its ruling sometime this month.

“Our nation is made stronger by its diversity,” Reid concludes. “I remain committed to ensuring that all Americans are treated equally, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other irrelevant factor.”

Speaking with reporters in May, Reid revealed that he has a lesbian niece and believes her employment “shouldn’t be affected” by her sexual orientation. At the time, he said there’s “a chance” the bill would come to the Senate floor this year.

The complete statement from Reid follows:

“In June, we have an opportunity to celebrate LGBT Pride Month by reflecting upon our recent victories and renewing our commitment to creating a more just and equal society in Nevada and across the country.

“During this legislative session, Nevada’s lawmakers added crimes committed because of a victim’s gender identity or expression to our state’s hate crimes statute and took the first step toward ensuring that our Constitution does not discriminate against same sex couples who love each other and want to get married.  I am proud of the advances our state has made toward ensuring equality and dignity for all Nevadans.

“In March, I joined 39 other U.S. senators in signing an amicus curiae brief with the U.S Supreme Court to make clear my belief that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. Because of DOMA, gay and lesbian married couples are denied more than 1,100 federal rights and benefits to which all other legally married couples are entitled; that is neither fair, nor right.  I hope that DOMA is struck down when the Supreme Court hands down its ruling sometime this month.  Finally, while Nevada has taken steps to ensure that individuals cannot be fired simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, in many states, no such protections exist.  I look forward to taking up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) soon, to prohibit such job discrimination across the nation.

“Our nation is made stronger by its diversity.  I remain committed to ensuring that all Americans are treated equally, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other irrelevant factor.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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