The senior senator from Delaware will become the 51st sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Washington Blade has learned.Having a majority of the U.S. Senate on record supporting ENDA is good, but what ultimately matters is whether it becomes law. As we all know, it takes 60 votes to get anything done in the hopelessly dysfunctional Senate—having 51 co-sponsors isn't enough, by itself, for passage. Still, it's unusual for a bill to have this many co-sponors. Of the four bills signed into law this year that originated in the Senate, only the Violence Against Women Act had more co-sponors—61.
In response to a Washington Blade inquiry, the office of Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) confirmed on Monday that he’ll sign on as a co-sponsor to the bill. Ian Sams, a Carper spokesperson, said Carper is “signing on as a co-sponsor of ENDA.”
“Sen. Carper believes it is important for federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – in the same way that current law addresses race, sex or religion – in order to ensure that all Americans are protected equally under the law,” Sams added.
As with most things, Congress is lagging behind the public, which strongly supports the principle of non-discrimination embodied in ENDA. Just today, Public Policy Polling released a poll showing 71 percent of North Carolinians believe that employers should not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, including 58 percent of Republicans. Now, with Majority Leader Harry Reid and a majority of senators on board, ENDA has momentum. And while it's possible that Republicans will decide to filibuster it if and when it comes up for a vote, it's becoming increasingly clear that if they do, they will pay a political price.