Statement on the Failure of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act


by Bill Clinton
June 24, 1999

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Today, Members of the House and Senate will re-introduce, on a bipartisan basis, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”). This important civil rights legislation would extend basic employment discrimination protections to gay and lesbian Americans. I strongly support this bill, and we will work hard for its passage.

Americans instinctively believe in fairness. They believe that individuals should not be denied a job on the basis of something that has no relationship to their ability to perform their work. Yet most Americans don’t know that men and women in 39 states of this nation may be fired from their jobs solely because of their sexual orientation, even when it has no bearing on their job performance. Sadly, as Congressional hearings have documented, this kind of job discrimination is not rare.

Those who face job discrimination based on sexual orientation usually have no legal recourse, in either our state or federal courts. This is wrong. Last year, I issued an executive order making permanent a long-standing federal policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the civilian federal workplace. I hope that Congress will make that policy a national one by passing this important legislation.

I applaud the bipartisan efforts of Senators Jeffords, Kennedy, and Lieberman and Congressmen Shays and Frank to make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act the law. ENDA failed to win passage by only one vote when the Senate last considered it. My Administration will continue to work for its passage until it becomes law.

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