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Employment Nondiscrimination Act Defeated and Defense of Marriage Act Passed

September 11, 1996
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Keith Boykin

Executive Director of the National Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum, former special assistant to President Clinton who worked in the White House on the Administration’s outreach to gay and lesbian and African-American communities, author of a new book called One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America

It’s been a historic week for gay and lesbian rights in this country. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate told U.S. employers that its okay to discriminate against lesbian and gay Americans. The senate narrowly defeated the Employment Nondiscrimination Act or ENDA, a bill that would have banned discrimination against gays and lesbians in hiring and promotions. The bill lost on a 50–49 vote.

On the same day, the senate debated and overwhelmingly passed the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, declaring that the Federal Government recognizes marriages only between a man and a woman and states may refuse to accept same sex marriages performed in other states. The vote on the Defense of Marriage Act was 85–14.


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