Main | Friday, August 22, 2008

New Version Of ENDA Cites DOMA For Definition Of Marriage

Democrats in Congress have reworked a plank of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to allow employers to deny benefits to legally married gay couples in California and Massachusetts. ENDA now cites the Defense of Marriage Act in its definition of married couples recognized by the federal government.
"It was unanimously agreed by all of us... that we had to put this language in there to protect this from being turned into a marriage bill which we would have lost," said Barney Frank, the openly-gay Massachusetts congressman who is ENDA's champion in the House, in a phone message to Gay City News.

A similar provision has been in the bill since 1994, when ENDA was first introduced on Capitol Hill, but the earlier language said employers did not have to provide benefits to the domestic partners of their employees.

ENDA, which bans job discrimination based on sexual orientation, now says an employer cannot be required "to treat a couple who are not married in the same manner as the covered entity treats a married couple for purposes of employee benefits."

To define "married" and "marry," ENDA cites the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to not honor them. Because the new bill, to an extent, mirrored the earlier language, gay and lesbian groups agreed to it, though not necessarily happily.
Many activists and LGBT organizations continue to oppose the current trans-exclusive version of ENDA. A previous version of ENDA was approved by the House of Representatives in November 2007, but the Senate never voted on the bill, which Bush had promised to veto.

(Via Duncan Osborne @ Gay City News)

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