Passing by a 64-32 vote, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will make it unlawful for an employer to use one’s actual or perceived gender or sexual orientation in any decisions regarding hiring or firing, as well as limitation, segregation or classification of employees or job applicants based on such factors.
Ten Republicans voted for ENDA, including two who previously declined to support a similar bill in 1996, but South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott both voted against it.
"Senators Graham and Scott's opposition to this common-sense, pro-family and anti-discrimination measure is both bizarre and hypocritical,” said Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, in a press release issued that same day. “All people who work hard and do their jobs to support their families deserve the security and respect of not being fired simply for who they are and how they were born.”
“(T)he last thing our workers need is to have their Senators fighting to protect discrimination instead of moving our country forward,” Harrison said.
Their votes yesterday didn’t vary much from their established voting patterns, however. For example, both Graham and Scott voted against renewal of the Violence Against Women Act – Scott even blocked the bill from coming to the floor for a vote – and despite the fact South Carolina has the highest rate of male-against-female homicide in the U.S.
“Senators Graham and Scott need to do some soul searching and start working for all of the people of South Carolina instead of just Tea Party extremists,” said Harrison.
If ENDA clears the U.S. House of Representatives, the law will be applicable to employers, employment agencies and labor unions.
House opposition is expected, however, with veiled threats of preventing the bill from coming to the floor for a vote coming from the offices of House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R – Va.) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Similar legislation entered South Carolina legislature in April when Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia)introduced the “Workplace Fairness Act” to the State House. With five additional sponsors, state bill H. 4205 is now under review by the Committee on Judiciary.