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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama calls for passage of Employment Non-Discrimination Act

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President Obama in a column late Sunday pressed for congressional Republicans to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, arguing that gay and lesbian Americans were being fired simply because of their sexual orientation.

“Millions of LGBT Americans go to work every day fearing that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs -- not because of anything they've done, but simply because of who they are,” the president wrote in an op-ed for The Huffington Post.

“It's offensive. It's wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense,” Obama added.

The Senate is expected to vote Monday on ENDA, which would provide workplace protections to gay, lesbian and transgendered employees.

However, some conservatives argue that the proposed law goes too far and potentially punishes religious organizations opposed to homosexuality. Conservative groups, such as Heritage Action, have already announced they would score the ENDA vote — putting Republicans in an awkward spot politically if they support the bill.

For his part, Obama looked to highlight a coalition of centrist Republicans who could rally behind ENDA.

“Several Republican senators have already voiced their support, as have a number of Republicans in the House,” Obama wrote. “If more members of Congress step up, we can put an end to this form of discrimination once and for all.”

It is unclear if the bill will meet the 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster in the Senate, and the discrimination law faces even longer odds in the Republican-controlled House.

GOP supporters of the bill have argued that if Republicans block ENDA, they risk looking intolerant and undermining efforts to appeal to a wider group of voters.

And Obama framed the looming vote as one of historic proportions.

“America is at a turning point,” he argued. “We're not only becoming more accepting and loving as a people, we're becoming more just as a nation. But we still have a way to go before our laws are equal to our founding ideals.”

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