Speaker Boehner rejects discrimination bill

Speaker John Boehner on Monday said he opposes legislation in the Senate that would ban forms of workplace discrimination against gay and transgendered people.

A spokesman said Boehner (R-Ohio) does not support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) because it would be bad for the economy.
 
“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

The Speaker's office also said that they believe current law already prohibits employers from firing their workers because they were LGBT.

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Senate Democrats believe they have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster on Monday and put ENDA on a path to passage this week.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday said that he and others at the White House heard with Boehner’s position with “regret.”

Carney said the reasoning behind Boehner's opposition "sounds familiar to the opposition to all civil rights measures" in the nation's history.

"That opposition was wrong then and is wrong now," Carney said.

ENDA, which was first introduced in 1994, would outlaw workplace and hiring discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. It would also provide protections for people who undergo “gender transitioning” while on the job.

Boehner’s opposition makes it unlikely that the bill would pass the Republican-led House, but Carney said the White House wouldn't give up.

President Obama urged lawmakers to back the bill in a blog post Sunday on The Huffington Post, arguing that “Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has also pledged her support to the legislation.

“Some people think ENDA is ending discrimination in the workplace. Isn’t that a given in our country? Apparently not. And that’s why we have to pass the bill,” Pelosi said last week. “Ending discrimination is what we are all about as Americans, and we should not have discrimination in the workplace because of gender identity.”

Social conservatives vehemently oppose the bill, and the influential conservative group Heritage Action is pushing lawmakers to oppose it.

— This report was last updated at 1:27 p.m.

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