Letter to Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the “Employment Non-Discrimination Act”

by Bill Clinton
October 19, 1995

Dear Ted:

I am writing in regard to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,
which you and Senator Jeffords have reintroduced in the current session
of Congress.

As you know, discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual
orientation is currently legal in 41 states. Men and women in those
states may be fired from their jobs solely because of their sexual
orientation, even when it has no bearing on their job performance. Those
who face this kind of job discrimination have no legal recourse, in
either our state or federal courts. This is wrong.

Individuals should not be denied a job on the basis of something
that has no relationship to their ability to perform their work. Sadly,
as the Labor and Human Resources Committee documented last year, this
kind of job discrimination is not rare. Cases of job discrimination on
the basis of sexual orientation are seen in every area of our country.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, however, is careful to apply
some exemptions in certain areas. I understand that your bill provides
an exemption for small businesses, the Armed Forces, and religious
organizations, including schools and other educational institutions that
are substantially controlled or supported by religious organizations.
This provision, which I believe is essential, respects the deeply held
religious beliefs of many Americans.

Moreover, your bill specifically prohibits preferential treatment on
the basis of sexual orientation, including quotas. It also does not
require employers to provide special benefits.

The bill, therefore, appears to answer all the legitimate objections
previously raised against it, while ensuring that Americans, regardless
of their sexual orientation, can find and keep their jobs based on their
ability and the quality of their work. The Employment Non-Discrimination
Act is designed to protect the rights of all Americans to participate in
the job market without fear of unfair discrimination. I support it.

Bill Clinton


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