"The labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature, spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. aptly observed.
No doubt he would add “LGBTQ-hater” and “LBGTQ-baiter” if he were alive today.
In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
In the latest move by Barack Obama that would expand the rights of LGBTQ workers, the president directed the Labor Department to draft rules that clarify that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to LGBTQ couples, even in states where same-sex marriage is not legal. FMLA allows employees to take unpaid leave to care for a sick spouse, but states that don't recognize same-sex marriage previously have been able to refuse FMLA for LGBTQ families.
Last week in Arizona, the tea party-dominated legislature passed a bill that will allow businesses to slam their doors shut on anyone they say doing business with would violate their religious beliefs. While the bill was aimed primarily at the LGBTQ community, in effect, it could allow business owners to discriminate against anyone.
Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has until Friday to sign or veto the bill. Call 888-968-2464 and urge Brewer to veto the bill.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the Senate today, with 64 senators voting in favor. ENDA was first introduced 20 years ago, and this is the first time it has passed the Senate. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) proposed the version that advanced Thursday. Its prospects are more unclear in the House, where observers such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) think there are enough votes to pass the legislation if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were to allow it to come to a vote. He has expressed opposition to the bill, so it may not be brought up.
Next week the Senate is expected to vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), federal legislation that would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, currently one of the few legal forms of workplace discrimination. The AFL-CIO historically has supported this legislation, and at the most recent quadrennial national convention, delegates passed a resolution reaffirming support for ENDA and rejecting any form of workplace discrimination.
In 2013, it's difficult to believe that in many parts of the country, it's legal to fire workers for their sexual orientation or gender identity. In fact, 52% of the LGBTQ population lives in states that do not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Studies show that more than one in five LGBTQ workers report discrimination on the job.