Last week, the U.S. Senate voted 60-30 to begin debate on a bill to extend federal nondiscrimination law to cover gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the workplace. It's about time. ("Hatch not only Mormon senator supporting gay-rights bill," Tribune, Nov. 4)
Seven Republican senators voted to allow full Senate debate. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said that many of her constituents are shocked when they learn that no such federal nondiscrimination law currently exists. "They just assume that our civil rights laws, which protect people from discrimination based on race, gender, religion, age, also protect individuals based on sexual orientation," she said, calling the measure "common sense."
"Discrimination is wrong," Sen. Orrin Hatch said, explaining that "the bill exempts churches and religious organizations, and the bill prohibits quotas and preferential treatment."
This is the first time since 1996 that the full Senate has considered a bill to outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and it's to Hatch's credit that he sided for it. If I could, I'd put a gold star on his forehead. Well done.