US Secretary of Labor Tom Perez speaks during the Center for American Progress Conference in Washington, Oct. 24, 2013.

Obama official calls for federal ban on employer discrimination


As politicians around the nation react to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a bill that would allow discrimination against gays and lesbians, the Obama administration has renewed calls for Congress to pass a federal ban on discrimination against gay Americans.

Arizona’s discrimination bill proved controversial. It drew opposotion from Mitt Romney and the National Football League, among many others. But today there is actually no federal law protecting gay Americans from more severe discrimination – including termination from jobs over their sexual orientation. On Thursday, Labor Secretary Tom Perez said that should change.

Citing the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, Perez said “I’m confident that if [a] vote took place tomorrow in the House of Representatives that it would command a majority … Becuase that’s where the American people are. They don’t care who you love, they care whether you can do the job,” Perez said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.”

The Senate passed the bill last year by 64 votes, but it is stuck in the House, where Speaker Boehner recently said he opposes the bill.

In Congress, Republican opponents of the bill have said it would invite unnecessary lawsuits. Perez dismissed that argument, saying that states that have passed similar anti-discrimination rules have not faced such problems, and “the business community hasn’t left.”

Perez also said he applauded Gov. Brewer’s veto of the Arizona bill, and said the battle would continue on the national level.

“Civil rights is about persistence. This president is going to be persistent, the American people want this, and I hope the leader follows suit” he said, referring to whether Speaker Boehner would hold a vote on ENDA.

Jansing & Co. , 2/27/14, 1:13 PM ET

Perez: 'Civil rights is about persistence'

Labor Secretary Tom Perez joins MSNBC’s Ari Melber to discuss the fate of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).


Obama official calls for federal ban on employer discrimination