Where’s the Vote on ENDA?

Lisa Keen at Bay Windows wonders where the vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is:

Barney  "Supporters of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) say they have the votes to pass the bill, they are just waiting for the Democratic leadership to call the bill to the floor. But the leadership has grown quiet — no more regular expressions of optimism and predictions for when Congress will take up the bill, and the waiting game is wearing on nerves.

'The community and the movement have done everything we’ve been asked to do,' said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, this week. NCTE is one of the key groups lobbying for the bill this session, taking the lead on the additional language that seeks to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, as well as sexual orientation.

'We’ve worked and worked and gotten sufficient votes to make sure gender identity stays in the bill,' said Keisling, 'but the bill is not being prioritized.'"

Focus appears to be turning toward transgender provisions, again:

"Given the controversy both on the state and national level, some transgender individuals are concerned that they will eventually be left out of the congressional legislation. 'Many people are concerned that [Frank] sees transgender rights as a bargaining chip, the first thing to get rid of,' Stryker said.

This time, Frank said, he’s committed to keeping transgender rights. The Massachusetts Democrat, who has been openly gay since 1987, has pushed for employment protections since he was a state representative in the 1970s, when some people didn’t want to think about gay people, Frank said. 'To some extent, the transgender community is in that same situation, where the very mention of it makes people uncomfortable,' he said."

Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate reports that Democrats are worried about dirty tricks from the GOP, and won't discuss the timing of a vote:

"Democratic aides said Thursday that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is still headed for a vote, but they continue to be concerned about Republicans offering what’s known as a “motion to recommit” to the legislation that might torpedo the bill or reduce its transgender protections…Gural said the vote count — or whip count — continues to be conducted through the office of the House majority whip, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, as well as those of representatives Frank, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Jared Polis of Colorado.

According to Baldwin, members are being asked two questions: how they would vote on final passage of ENDA and how they would vote on a hypothetical motion to recommit that would diminish protections for transgender individuals. But specific language for a motion to recommit does not have to be offered until just minutes before a vote is taken, so it’s nearly impossible to know what form it might take.

'With over 200 cosponsors, passage of the bill is assured,' Baldwin said in an interview two weeks ago. 'I think the only question mark is what sort of meddlesome motion to recommit will be brought forward.'"

GLAAD has expressed concerns about how discussions of transgender provisions in ENDA are proceeding in the media:

"Most of the recent articles discussing ENDA problematically devote significant space to publishing defamatory statements about transgender people by anti-LGBT organizations like the Traditional Values Coalition and its executive director Andrea Lafferty. They frequently describe transgender people as “she-males” and mentally ill. Such defamatory remarks should never be used simply in an effort to provide opposing viewpoints, especially when they stem from a source that is listed as a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry."

Posted May 14, 2010 at 1:33pm ETC by Andy Towle
in barney frank, ENDA, News