Despite Bipartisan Support, Three Democratic Senators Still Undecided On ENDA


Despite the recent bipartisan endorsement that the current incarnation of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received from the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee (HELP), The Washington Blade reports that three key Democratic senators, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.; pictured above left), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.; above center), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.; above right), are still holding out on offering their support for the bill:

"Manchin ignored questions from the Blade on how he’ll vote on the bill. His response to the final question: 'It’s very nice to meet you.'

Pryor was similarly non-committal. Asked whether he was familiar with the legislation, the senator replied, 'I am in concept, but I haven’t seen it or read it yet.'

Asked for a sense of how he’ll vote on ENDA, Pryor said he needed time to review the bill, adding, 'I’ll just have to look at it.”

Nelson couldn’t be reached on Capitol Hill for a comment on how he’ll vote on ENDA. The Florida senator’s office — along with the offices of Pryor and Manchin — hasn’t responded for six weeks to the Blade’s requests for comment on ENDA…

Although the lack of commitment from Pryor and Manchin may not be surprising because they’re among the Democrats who don’t support marriage equality, Nelson’s silence is striking because he supports same-sex marriage. In May 2010, the senator also voted for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee even before the Pentagon report on open service came out later that fall."

Many LGBT advocates have called on Senators Nelson, Pryor and Mancin to announce their support for the bill and join as co-sponsors. Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, told the Blade,

“The three holdout Senate Democrats are alienating themselves further from the Democratic Party and ignoring American values of hard work and success with every passing day that they stubbornly refuse to cosponsor the bipartisan ENDA.”

White House spokesperson Shin Inouye insisted that administration officials are lobbying the Senate to ensure a successful vote in favor of ENDA.

HRCThe bill, having advanced out of committee with the support of prominent Republicans such as Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), is widely believed to receive an up or down vote after Congress's August recess, according to HELP chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Meanwhile the Human Rights campaign has begun a $2 million campaign to rally bipartisan support for ENDA, with plans to engage in "grassroots activities to encourage Republican votes for ENDA in Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania." ENDA's proponents are primarily concerned with mustering 60 yes votes in the Senate thus securing a filibuster-proof super-majority in support of the bill, a de-facto requirement for nearly all Democratic legislation in the Senate since President Obama took office in 2009. LGBT advocates of the bill believe they have a strong message they can pitch to a broad swath of American voters about why passing ENDA is crucial: Americans value "hard work," "fairness," and won't stand for discrimination.

However, should ENDA pass the Senate it faces a steeper uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Earlier this month, gay co-author of the McCain-Feingold Act, Trevor Porter, suggested that a discharge petition was the surest solution to passing ENDA in the House where some Republican members are expected to have reservations about approving the bill given the protections it provides to individuals discriminated against based on their gender identity.

Though many, including Sen. Hatch, remain pessimistic about ENDA's chances in the House, LGBT advocacy groups are stressing the importance of focusing on winning senate approval before delving into the myriad of complications that await ENDA in the House. Jeff Cook-McCormac, senior adviser to the newly formed Republican-affiliated American Unity Fund, commented:

“Getting the House to move is going to require initial Senate action…I think that the real critical focus for this coalition of business and labor, of the gay community and employers, is building on the overwhelming vote in the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee to get to floor consideration, to get the majority that we need and then to begin to work in a careful and thoughtful way with House Republicans to think through ways that this important measure can be realized.”


  1. Marco says

    First I saw adorable Harry Styles. Then,…I glanced further down the page only to be visually assaulted by three altogether unattractive dudes. Why, oh, why can’t public officials (and anchor persons for that matter), to consult stylists of all sorts? I’m just saying. Let’s keep America beautiful, ladies and gentlemen.

  2. TampaZeke says

    Bill Nelson has been a steaming pile of sh*t for years. Unfortunately, in Florida, he’s the lesser of the evils we’ve got to choose from. It’s time to get a viable progressive to primary him.

  3. Kevin says

    Mark Pyror is worried about getting reelected so there will no yes vote from him on anything to do with gay rights.
    As for Joe Manchin,he’s on the record with being against the repeal of DADT and DOMA.
    That D next to his name means nothing.

  4. Jake says

    Heterosexual men will kick and scream over this. Be glad you don’t live in Moscow. They aren’t buying it either.

  5. andrew says

    As disappointed as we may be over the lack of support of Manchin, Pryor and Nelson for ENDA, it is important to remember that their votes make it possible for the Democrats to control the U.S.Senate, set the calendar and have a democratic Senator Chair every Senate Committee and Sub Committee.

  6. Francis #1 says

    Good point, Andrew.

    Expected nothing more than this from these three blue dogs. Bill Nelson’s “I support gay marriage” canard is a farce. He said he was against it literally weeks prior. He’s no ally, and Manchin is as anti-gay as any average Republican.

  7. Paul says

    Does anyone even take Pryor seriously? Have you seen “Religulous”? The man is barely literate. Making up words as he goes along. He’s the Democrat’s Sarah Palin.

  8. Rafael says

    I agree TampaZeke. You can bet I will not be voting for him again. Sen. Nelson days are numbered.

  9. David says

    Sen. Joe Manchin’s uncle A. James Manchin was, “a flamboyant character of the first magnitude,” and known locally to frequent adult bookstores in the capital Charleston preferring sex with young men. Joseph Manchin IV has been seen buying anal toys, lube, and bi-sexual DVD’s at the adult bookstore near Clarksburg. I know because I sold them to him!

  10. Liam says

    David: Great. What does his relative’s private life have to do with Manchin? Was it really necessary to go into all the sordid details? Your are disgusting.

  11. woodroad34d says

    I never understand how these people can call themselves Democrats. I feel offended when someone like Ruben Diaz calls himself a Democrat and then virulent and Wingnuttly Conservatively lashes out at gays. Who are these morally inept people? What do they really give people back for voting for them?

  12. Derrick from Philly says

    Very good point, Andrew.

    Blue Dawg Democrats are essential to Dems controlling the senate. Getting back the House seems impossible, but who knows.

  13. DB says

    It is clear that if we delete the irrelevant ‘gender identity’ characteristic from ENDA and restore the bill to its original form, we could easily pass the bill in both the House and the Senate. Transgender homophobes who added gender identity to the bill are killing it and causing thousands of gay individuals and families to suffer discrimination in hiring, firing, and promotion. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was designed to ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Let us keep it that way. Over 85% of Americans support the original version of ENDA. However, <40% of the population supports banning gender identity discrimination. Please e-mail your congresspeople and tell them to pass ENDA with sexual orientation only and not the irrelevant gender identity category added.

  14. says

    DB, just because you’re a wimp with no balls is no need for you to be so angry at Transgendered and transitioned people.

    Check out Ontario’s Bill-33: Toby’s Act.

    it’s wonderful, and needs to be emulated everywhere. protect gender-identity and gender-expression.

    DB, don’t you ever get frustrated by being such a pathetic excuse for a man, that you need to come on here every day and use various random screen names to tell the internet how much you dislike transgendered people?

    what’s the matter? did a sexy FTM boy steal away the boy you were crushing on? or are you just upset that despite being born with female anatomy, they’re more man than you’ll ever be?

    rather than emailing to say “don’t help transpeopel”, why not email and get out and do some work in the real world for a change and enlighten people about issues facing our Trans brothers and sisters?

    Oh, but that would require you not being a complete sack of s**t. and you are one. oh well.
    the rest of us will pick up the slack. we always have.