ENDA and the coming wave of lawsuits

Harry Reid has attached himself to yet another media friendly, demographic identity cause this month after signing on as a co-sponsor to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. The proposed legislation, which has been kicked around in Congress for years now, would ban at the Federal level any employment discrimination, “based on sexual orientation or gender identity.” It also gives Reid another super duper chance to hop behind the microphones.

“No one should face discrimination in their workplace based on sexual orientation,” Reid said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “It’s time to make fairness the law of the land. That is why I am co-sponsoring this legislation and I will do everything I can to ensure that it passes the Senate.”

Reid’s announcement makes him the 50th cosponsor of ENDA. He said earlier this week that he expects it to reach the Senate floor “soon.”

This particular bill, as I’m sure most of you could have predicted, has been a reliable lightning rod* and opportunity for the media to line up the bad guys. For the prime example, it’s serving as a convenient target to paste on Marco Rubio.

Rubio on ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect LGBT people from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity): “By and large I think all Americans should be protected but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation.”

Click through the link to get a taste of the howling protests coming over that assessment.

This legislation appears, at least on the surface, to be a textbook case of another bill which probably will accomplish a lot more in terms of fueling cable news wars than making any substantive change in society. The ostensible goal of the bill is one which, at the root of it, wouldn’t be opposed by very many people, including conservatives. In America, people should be able to compete for a job based on their own abilities and accomplishments and have the opportunity to excel and achieve. It’s the free market in action. Unfortunately, every time the federal government tries to get involved in the process they wind up trampling on the system they’re trying to fix, much like a bull being turned loose in a china shop.

Passing laws which seek to regulate how employers act in hiring and/or retaining employees has proven to be one area where government is least effective in “getting anything done” and most damaging when they invariably miss the target. Even assuming that you do have an employer or manager responsible for hiring and firing who is prejudiced against some particular group, these laws have almost no teeth. If “Sally” is the boss and she doesn’t like purple people, when a job opening comes up and some purple person applies for it, she need only find a reason why some other, non-purple applicant was a better fit for the job. And should a purple person turn up on the payroll, Sally would be foolish indeed to baldly announce that they were fired for their purpleness. She would instead wait a short period until there was some justification for a resource action and then eliminate them based on other stated criteria.

When Uncle Sam takes the next step, mandating that each employer must hire “x” percentage of purple persons to circumvent the preceding scenario, an entire new can of worms is opened. You now have a potentially huge pool of non-purple workers who may have been better qualified and more productive who are now passed over for employment. This results in the all too real, but despised and denied (in liberal circles) phenomenon of reverse discrimination.

But since the laws in question have massive political appeal, they are passed into law anyway and the real winners emerge: the lawyers. Because with the law in place, everyone who doesn’t get hired or is removed for cause of any sort finds themselves with the opportunity to sue the employer under the new rules. Dollars spent in such lawsuits and settlements are dollars not available to expand the payroll and get more workers off the unemployment lines.

No matter how well intended, ENDA has looked like yet another of these political fashion shows from the beginning, and apparently Reid has decided that the time has come to kick off the show. And from a political perspective, it’s pretty much a winner for liberals. Anyone who votes against it can immediately be branded a homophobe and tee up endless loops of commentary on the Sunday morning shows. Meanwhile, even if the bill stagnates, liberal voters supporting the proposal are left wondering… why didn’t Barack Obama do something about it by executive order when he clearly could have?

But that doesn’t make for a very good talk show segment, does it?

EDIT: (Jazz) A lightning rod would be far more suitable than a lightening rod. Though I might be able to use a lightening rod for this sunburn.