LGBT activists slammed House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on Thursday for his latest refusal to move forward on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
“Speaker Boehner has once again shown that he is out of touch with American voters,” GetEQUAL co-director Felipe Sousa Rodríguez told The Raw Story via email. “Over 70 percent of Americans believe we need to end employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
ThinkProgress reported on Thursday that Boehner once again argued that there was “no basis or need” for ENDA, which would bar employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of their gender or sexuality.
“I am opposed to discrimination of any kind, in the workplace and any place else,” Boehner was quoted as saying. “But I think this legislation, that I have dealt with as chairman of the Education Workforce Committee long before I was back in the leadership, is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits. People are already protected in the workplace. I am opposed to continuing this.”
However, Equality Ohio executive director Elyzabeth Holford called Boehner’s statement a false argument.
“The LGBT community is not covered in federal [non-discrimination] law,” Holford told The Raw Story in a phone interview. “There’s not currently any route for someone in the LGBT community who is discriminated against in the workplace to go to the EEOC.”
Holford also pointed out that a study earlier this year by the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported “relatively few” discrimination complaints in the 22 states that currently have ENDA-like laws on the books.
Not only was Boehner’s premise faulty, Holford said, but it runs counter to her group’s findings regarding their home state’s feelings on the issue. According to Holford, Equality Ohio is working with state lawmakers to put a state equivalent of the bill before the Ohio legislature.
“Our polling in Ohio shows that over three-quarters of Ohioans are in favor of having LGBT community included in non-discrimination laws,” she said.
Meanwhile, Sousa-Rodríguez — whose group protested Boehner’s Washington D.C. office earlier this year — said his refusal to move forward “presents the opportunity for President Obama to lead by signing an executive order protecting employees of federal contractors — a much-needed change that would cover about 25 percent of the American workforce and would show the country that Democrats are serious about LGBT equality.”
Watch Boehner’s remarks, as posted by Think Progress on Thursday, below.