A U.S. Senate Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the Employment Non-discrimination Act. The bill would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley attended as a co-sponsor. In 2007, Oregon passed The Oregon Equality Act, a sexual orientation non-discrimination law.
Merkley said about 2,000 discrimination law suits are filed in Oregon each year. He says on average, fewer than 40 of those are related sexual orientation or gender identity.
"We need to take the experience that Oregon has had, and twenty one states in total who have ended discrimination on sexual orientation, or the experience that sixteen states have had in ending transgender discrimination and bring that experience to the entire country," he explained.
Merkley said a majority of U.S. states have no laws to bar discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. After Tuesday morning's hearing, Merkley said it’s time to extend what he called "fundamental fairness" to all Americans.
No vote on the bill is scheduled at this time.