Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR) is pleased by this announcement:The Employment Non-Discrimination Act could come up for a vote in the Senate as early as next week, according to the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
ENDA would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. When the Senate convened Monday afternoon, Reid formally announced his plans to bring up ENDA during the current work period, which ends the week before Thanksgiving. Reid has long been a supporter of ENDA, cosponsoring it as early as 1997.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are the only two Republican cosponsors, although ENDA's supporters are hopeful that some other GOP senators will vote for the bill on the floor. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are considered to be possible supporters.
LGBT rights groups have been stepping up their outreach on ENDA in recent weeks. Freedom to Work launched a Latino voter phone-banking initiative, using bilingual call centers in Arizona and Nevada to target McCain, Flake and Heller.
The Human Rights Campaign, meanwhile, has more than 30 field organizers in New Hampshire, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania mobilized around ENDA. They've held 150 events in these critical states and supporters have written letters, made phone calls and signed postcards to show their support. - Huffington Post, 10/28/13
Here's a little more background info:Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who introduced the bill in April, told the Huffington Post he was pleased with Reid's timeline for the bill.
"I thank Majority Leader Reid for committing to bring ENDA to the floor this work period," Merkley said to The Huffington Post. "Americans understand that it’s time to make sure our LGBT friends and family are treated fairly and have the same opportunities. Now it's time for our laws to catch up. People should be judged at work on their ability to do the job, period." - TPM, 10/28/13
Advocates for ENDA never gave up on getting this passed, even during the shutdown:In case anyone’s forgotten, ENDA is tough to argue against. A lot of Americans don’t know this, but under existing law, gay people can be fired from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation. Discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or religion is illegal, but an employer could walk up to a gay employee this afternoon, declare, “I don’t like gay people so you’re fired,” and there’s literally nothing in federal law to prevent this happening.
ENDA would prohibit this form of discrimination.
As a rule, when Republicans balk at the issue, they tend to say this is an issue that should be left to the states – they don’t endorse employment discrimination, the argument goes, but it’s not an issue the federal government should address.
The counter-argument is pretty straightforward: if you’re a policymaker comfortable with federal anti-discrimination laws to protect women and minority groups, then you have no reason to oppose ENDA. Either you’re willing to tolerate employment discrimination or you’re not.
Expect Senate action on ENDA within the week. The odds of success in the Republican-led House would obviously be far more difficult, but proponents appear to be taking a one-chamber-at-a-time approach. - MSNBC, 10/28/13
The ENDA vote also puts the GOP on the spot when it comes to civil rights for LGBT Americans:LGBT rights supporters say they remain engaged on a high-priority bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and assert plans for a vote in the Senate this fall remain unchanged.
Christian Berle, legislative director for Freedom to Work, said he doesn’t expect the shutdown to have any impact on the timing of an ENDA vote.
“We’ve always believed the most likely window for a Senate vote on ENDA was between the last week of October and Thanksgiving, and we think we’re still on track for that timing,” Berle said.
Even as Congress focuses on finding an agreement to restore funds to keep the government in operation and raise the nation’s debt limit, advocates say they met last week with lawmakers to build support for ENDA.
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said the shutdown “will not shut us up” on issues like ENDA as well as immigration reform.
“It’s always the right time for rights and protections: that’s why we were on the Hill last week pushing for ENDA with the members and their staff who remain at their desks during the shutdown,” Carey said. “Just because some members of Congress don’t want to do their jobs, doesn’t mean that we should stop doing ours.” - Washington Blade, 10/9/13
Well i say we get a head start on pressuring the remaining Democratic Senators and the Republican Senators who could help pass ENDA. If you would like to contact any of the following Senators, you can do so here:That the focus is on Republicans is a sign that LGBT advocates sense an opening to capitalize on efforts by the party establishment to grow their base in order to prevent a takeover by tea partyers and culture warriors, which could debilitate the GOP’s national prospects for years.
This year’s initial strategy for a bigger tent — backing an immigration overhaul that might boost the GOP’s share of the fast-growing Hispanic vote above its abysmal 27 percent in 2012 — now looks way more likely than not to remain stopped by the House’s most conservative bloc. A conscious effort to woo the steadily expanding LGBT vote, which was just 22 percent Republican last year, would be a next logical alternative; it also might help the party with younger voters and even libertarian independents. (One of the most prominent proponents of this approach is Ken Mehlman, a former top aide to a pair of conservative House Republicans from Texas who came out after chairing the Republican National Committee.)
Since the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act this year, that’s a topic almost exclusively for states to debate. But efforts to outlaw job bias have been a federal matter for six decades. And some congressional Republicans eye a new poll by the conservative firm Target Point as signaling it’s politically safe to join such an effort. - Roll Call, 10/27/13
Mark Pryor (D. AR): (202) 224-2353
Bill Nelson (D. FL): (202) 224-5274
Joe Manchin (D. WV): (202) 224-3954
Kelly Ayotte (R. NH): (202) 224-3324
Rob Portman (R. OH): (202) 224-3353
Pat Toomey (R. PA): (202) 224-4254
Dean Heller (R. NV): (202) 224-6244
John McCain (R. AZ): (202) 224-2235
Jeff Flake (R. AZ): (202) 224-4521
And if you would like to thank Merkley for continuing to fight to get ENDA passes, please do contribute to his 2014 re-election bid: