My Turn: Nondiscrimination law deserves support
As a Concord businessman and a lifelong Republican, I believe that the American dream is achievable by any individual willing to put in the work. I also believe it is wrong for anyone or anything to stand in the way of someone else’s pursuit of life, liberty or happiness. This is what sets us apart from countries where oppression reigns and regimes can suppress the ability of individuals to live free and follow their dreams.
Those are among the reasons why I support the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act currently before the U.S. Senate. ENDA would protect hardworking Americans from discrimination on the job or from being denied the freedom to work just because of who they are or how they are perceived. ENDA would expand existing federal workplace protections for religion, race and disability to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
ENDA is not about imposing quotas or granting one class special rights. ENDA is about growing our struggling economy. It exempts small businesses and the military and respects religious organizations. Like all civil rights laws, including those that protect Christians, Jews and others from religious discrimination in the workplace, ENDA simply affords all Americans the basic employment protection from discrimination. We have had a comparable law in New Hampshire since 1998.
Qualified, hardworking Americans should not be denied job opportunities or the chance to help grow our economy in these difficult economic times.
Currently, in a majority of states, there are no state laws prohibiting an employer from firing or refusing to hire someone simply because he or she is gay or transgender. As a result, our fellow Americans face a real risk of discrimination in employment, including being fired, being denied a promotion or experiencing harassment on the job.
Most Fortune 500 companies already have in place nondiscrimination polices that include sexual orientation and gender identity because successful American companies recognize that this is not only the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. As of April 2013, 434 (88 percent) of the Fortune 500 companies had implemented non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, and 282 (57 percent) had policies that include gender identity.
It is important to note that ENDA contains an explicit exemption for religious organizations so they can continue to practice their faiths as protected under the Constitution. Diverse communities of faith already embrace the principle of nondiscrimination. Numerous Christian and Jewish organizations and denominations have taken a strong stand against discrimination.
As a businessman, a Republican, and a citizen of this great republic, I believe everyone has the right to work hard and be judged by the work they do. This is a bedrock American and New Hampshire principle and one that has fueled our economy for generations.
If you turn on the news it’s difficult not to see examples in countries like Russia and Iran, where basic human rights are not only not protected, but are actively trampled upon.
I believe my party and my country can do better.
ENDA should receive a vote in the U.S. Senate this year, and I stand with the vast majority of Americans, Republicans and businesses who believe it is time to ensure all Americans receive the same protections to pursue the American dream.
(Stephen Duprey is a Republican national committeeman.)