Halfway Out: Why America's Sexual Minorities Deserve Better Than the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Joel Rudin

DOI: 10.2190/WR.16.3-4.e


Sexual minorities lack protection from employment discrimination under U.S. federal law, but approximately half of the states have chosen to protect lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and (less frequently) the transgendered. Almost all of these states have chosen the simplest method of doing so, which is to add the phrase "sexual orientation" to their preexisting sets of prohibited types of employment discrimination. At the federal level, a broad coalition is encouraging passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In every instance where the text of this bill differs from the Civil Rights Act it is to the detriment of sexual minorities. For example, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would make it more difficult for employers to fire same-sex harassers than opposite-sex harassers. Truer equality of employment opportunity would result from a legislative strategy that more closely mirrored the one chosen by those states that have already chosen to move forward to address this issue.

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