President Obama turned blogger on Sunday night, making an impassioned plea in the Huffington Post for Congress to pass a long-delayed measure to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The bill, called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, is set for a Senate vote on Monday, and proponents are upbeat about its prospects for passage.
Obama writes that while Americans can't lose their jobs because of race, religion, gender, or disability, "in many states a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender."
The president continues: "It's offensive. It's wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense."
Citing "strong bipartisan support and the support of a vast majority of Americans," Obama says ENDA "ought to be the law of the land."
The only thing Americans should be judged on in the workplace, he says, is "their ability to get their jobs done. Does it make a difference if the firefighter who rescues you is gay -- or the accountant who does your taxes, or the mechanic who fixes your car?"
The same legislation failed by a single vote, 50-49, the last time it was considered by the Senate in 1996, the Washington Post reports. This time, 60 votes will be needed to overcome an expected Republican filibuster. Along with all 55 Democratic senators, the bill currently has the support of at least four Republicans, though a fifth, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, has said he is leaning toward supporting the measure.
The column is Obama's third for the Huffington Post, but his first since being elected president. His previous two posts, written in 2008 during his first campaign for the White House, addressed the controversy over his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and his decision to support legislation concerning the secret FISA court.