The U.S. Senate recently made history voting 64-32 to pass landmark legislation extending workplace protections to the LGBT community. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would make it illegal under federal law for employers to discriminate against their employees based on the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These same basic workplace protections are already afforded to individuals on the basis of race, creed, national origin, gender, and disability status.
The vote saw 54 Democratic members of the Senate joined by 10 Senate Republicans in supporting what many have characterized as not only “the right thing to do,” but also as “common-sense legislation.” Those Republicans voting in favor of ENDA included Senators McCain and Flake of Arizona, Collins of Maine, Portman of Ohio, Toomey of Pennsylvania, Hatch of Utah, Ayotte of New Hampshire, Murkowski of Alaska, Kirk of Illinois, and Heller of Nevada. Notably missing from that list is the junior senator from Florida, Marco Rubio.
As an openly gay American and a third-year law student at the same university from which Sen. Rubio earned his law degree, I am highly disappointed in the senator’s poor judgment. By voting against the measure, he has demonstrated his belief that it is simply OK for individuals to lose their jobs because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
That is simply not OK..
Employment decisions should not take into account one’s sexual orientation or gender identity; just as such decisions should not be based on other arbitrary characteristics such as one’s race or gender. Rather, individuals should be evaluated for their experience, their dedication, their talents, and their abilities.
Unlike Sen. Rubio I have not yet earned my law degree from the University of Miami, nor have I served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, nor am I a United States senator, but I do know enough to know that allowing LGBT individuals to be discriminated against in the workplace is not good public policy.
Bigotry and prejudice serve no purpose in the workplace, and Sen. Rubio serves no purpose in the U.S. Senate.
Brendan G. Corrigan, Miami