I have stopped supporting ENDA mainly because of a different, rarely discussed problem: our country lacks a single standard for banning job discrimination.
We must push forward on comprehensive reform because the alternative – and the status quo – is unacceptable.
Across the country, it’s become increasingly evident that problems stemming from inequality have reached a level that can only be characterized as a crisis. With the wealth gap between the top .01 percent of households and the rest of us greater than it was in 1928 before the onset of the Great Depression, opportunities for too many Americans are disappearing.
It’s said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The U.S. Senate took a giant leap forward last Thursday as 10 Republicans crossed party lines and passed the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
What alleged safety mechanism unites the Washington Navy Yard, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Columbine scenes of terror? Each was a designated gun-free zone, even as the sites were eventually turned into shooting galleries by madmen.
In a recent op-ed published by the Washington Post, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) warns us of the dangers of federal overreach. According to Cruz, terrible things could happen if we’re not careful: foreign courts could override parents’ decision-making regarding the education of their children with special needs; an international tribunal in Hamburg could seize control of U.S. businesses; and the United Nations might just come to your house and take away your guns.
John Adams once argued, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes … they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
I used to think gun violence in America was someone else’s problem – something that affected people in poor neighborhoods in the inner city, far from where I was raising my son, Jordan. After all, Jordan’s father and I were enjoying good careers in the airline industry and I was raising our only child in a comfortable Atlanta suburb. Jordan’s friends were well off and well educated and came from all races and ethnicities.
A lot can change in twenty years.
In 1994, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell had just been adopted after a failed effort to end the military ban. No states were close to marriage equality. The push for a federal hate crime law covering lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans was still years away. The Supreme Court had not yet ruled the ban on “sodomy” unconstitutional. Ellen had not yet come out.