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U.S. Senate Passes Employment Anti-Discrimination Act, Championed by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley

Angela Kellner

College students and business leaders joined Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley Friday in calling on congress to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. On Thursday the senate passed the Employment Anti-Discrimination Act.  It passed by a 2-to-1 margin with 10 Republicans joining Democrats. Senator Merkley helped pass Oregon's workplace protection law in 2007 when he was speaker of the Oregon House. He says not all states offer the same employment protections for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or trans-gendered.

Merkley: "So in 29 states, it's perfectly legal to not hire or to fire someone because they are lesbian, gay or bi-sexual. And in 33 states it's legal to fire somebody because of their transgender status."

House Speaker John Boehner says he will not take up the bill in the house. This worries University of Oregon sophomore Connor Gagner

"For an LGBTQA-identified college student thinking of graduating and hoping to join the workforce, this means that in over half of the states in our country, one could potentially lose their job simply for being who they are."

Business leaders from Oregon-based Nike and Ninkasi say the state's anti-discrimination employment law is not intrusive and should be adopted nationally.