Transcript: Sen. Dick Durbin’s remarks on the passage of ENDA – press briefing Nov. 7, 2013

Partial transcript of remarks by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) on the Senate’s passage of S. 815 Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA), which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 64 to 32. The press briefing was held on Nov. 7, 2013:

I want to thank Chairman Harkin and Jeff Merkley and in particular Tammy Baldwin for the amazing achievement which we are seeing on the Senate floor today.

This is a big week for those of us from Illinois because it was just a day or two ago – two days ago – that the Illinois General Assembly passed marriage equality, about to be signed into law, making it the 15th state in the nation that has reached this amazing, historic milepost.

And it’s an important day for Illinois in the United States Senate. A Republican Senator Mark Kirk and a Democratic Senator Dick Durbin both co-sponsored and supported this important legislation.

This was a historic victory and shows how quickly our country is moving forward.

It wasn’t that long ago when it was acceptable to refuse to hire people based on the color of their skin, their religion, or their gender. But Congress corrected that wrong with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

In one time, employers could fire someone solely because of their age, and Congress fixed this by passing the Age Discrimination and Employment Act to put an end to age discrimination.

And as Tom Harkin, who can probably say he was the author along with Bob Dole, can say there was a time in our country when an employee could be passed over for promotion simply because they were living with a disability. Thanks to Tom Harkin and many others, the Americans with disabilities act put an end to that type of discrimination.

Speaker Boehner has said that the current law already prevents this type of discrimination, and for that reason, the House of Representatives won’t consider this bill.

I ask Speaker Boehner to go home and take a look around his state of Ohio. His home state of Ohio is one of 29 states which allow employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

It is unconscionable that when given an opportunity to right one of these last remaining civil rights issues of our time, Speaker Boehner and those who follow his lead in the House of Representatives are turning their backs. We have an opportunity to outlaw one of the last vestiges of discrimination in the workplace.

Let me close by saying this: Anyone who is a student of history know that our history books are littered with those public figures who said we just can’t end a discrimination based on race, we can’t end that discrimination based on age, based on disability, based on gender. Think about their place in history today, and I won’t recount the names.

Speaker Boehner, think about the party you belong to. The Republican Party of the United States of America came into being in the 1850s over the issue of slavery, and the man who embodied the ideals of that Republican Party was none other than Abraham Lincoln, who literally gave his life for this country to end discrimination. Keep that proud Republican tradition alive. Do not stop or kill this effort to end discrimination in the House of Representatives.



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2 Comments on “Transcript: Sen. Dick Durbin’s remarks on the passage of ENDA – press briefing Nov. 7, 2013

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Sen. Patty Murray’s remarks on the passage of ENDA – press briefing Nov. 7, 2013 | What The Folly?!

  2. Pingback: Transcript: Press briefing Q&A with Senate Democrats on the passage of ENDA – Nov. 7, 2013 | What The Folly?!

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