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GOP Led House Panel Kills Last-Ditch Effort to Pass ENDA

Yesterday, a GOP-controlled panel in the U.S. House voted against attaching the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as an amendment to a broader defense authorization bill, the Washington Blade reports:

PolisRep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) introduced the amendment on behalf of Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s gay and chief sponsor of ENDA, during House Rules Committee consideration of the fiscal year 2015 defense authorization bill. Polis is a member of the Rules Committee, but was absent when the amendment came up for a vote.

The panel, which is heavily stacked in favor of Republicans, rejected the amendment 7-3 without discussion by a party-line vote. Had the Rules Committee accepted the amendment, it would have made ENDA part of the defense spending measure before it headed to a vote on the full House floor.

Last year, ENDA was approved by the senate in a historic, bipartisan 64-32 vote. 


Unsurprisingly, ENDA Has Little Chance of Passage in 'More Lame Than Usual' Lame Duck Session

An update on the continually-troubled Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) from Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

McconnellHopes persisted the measure would move forward when the dust settled after Election Day, perhaps as a floor amendment in the Senate to the fiscal year 2015 defense authorization bill, but now that Republican gains flipped control of the chamber, even that method of getting ENDA to President Obama seems unlikely to succeed.

Two Senate aides familiar with the defense authorization bill, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Washington Blade that it’s unlikely the Senate will allow any floor amendments to the legislation — let alone pro-LGBT legislation that would prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI): "I think it’s going to be hard. For most of the legislation, they’re going to wait until January when they have a Republican House and a Republican Senate. So, I think the lame duck session could be more lame than usual perhaps because of that, and I would be really surprised if much of substance especially around LGBT issues moves.”


Majority of Adults Say Employers Shouldn't Discriminate Against LGBT Workers on Religious Grounds

According to Harris Interactive, a Nielsen-owned rolling research firm, the bulk of American adults feel as if LGBT workers should not be discriminated against by their employers on religious grounds. The poll, a joint effort between Harris and Out & Equal, found that 55% of respondents were opposed to any employer being able to claim religious exemption were the Employee Non-Discrimination Act to be made into law.

Selisse Berry"This year's survey reinforces what we are seeing in companies, government agencies and businesses around the country - even around the world-- that more and more business leaders are supporting workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees," said Out & Equal CEO Selisse Berry. "While this is good news we still have work to do to protect employees who can still be fired in 29 U.S. states for being LGBT and in 32 if one is transgender.”

Over two-thirds of participants in the poll said that they believed that protection against workplace discrimination should include both gender identity as well as sexual orientation. While a majority of those polled were in support for blanket protections for LGBT people, 33% reported feeling that churches and houses or worship were within their rights to claim an exemption. Similarly, 30% said that they thought privately held businesses should be able to claim exemptions.


CNN Looks at America's Closeted Workforce and the Need for Nationwide ENDA - VIDEO

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A sobering reminder that in 29 states, it's still legal for private companies to discriminate against LGBT people. 

Included in the segment are interviews with Todd Sears, the founder of Out Leadership; Christie Smith, an openly gay high ranking executive at a consultant firm; and a closeted man who chose to not give his name or show his face. 

According to a recent Human Rights Campaign study, 53% of LGBT workers in America are closeted at work. 

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "CNN Looks at America's Closeted Workforce and the Need for Nationwide ENDA - VIDEO" »


With Gay Marriage Pushing Forward, Religious Conservatives Turn Attention to 'Religious Exemption' Bills

B3bpkfhtj9z3errtvn8uWith the battle against gay marriage losing ground throughout the country, some religious conservatives are shifting their attention to "religious exemption" laws.

The post-Hobby Lobby ENDA is wide open to laws like Mississippi's, or Arizona's (ultimately vetoed) bill, which allow for the denial of service to people, if it's based on religion (so, based on sexual orientation).

The AP reports

Sweeping carve-outs for faith-affiliated adoption agencies or individual wedding vendors will be an uphill battle. Public attitudes against exceptions have hardened, and efforts by faith groups in states where courts, not lawmakers, recognized same-sex unions have had little success.

Unfortunately, this may hold less true in some places. The AP article continues with a quote from Robin Fretwell Wilson, a legal specialist from the University of Illinois. She says:

Some of the states are so red — think South Carolina — that the legislature can likely lock down all kinds of religious liberty protections, even those we have not yet seen adopted anywhere, like protection for the small mom-and-pop wedding professionals, simply because they have the votes of like-minded colleagues.

Another example of Hobby Lobby-related problems presented by the article is that of Utah Republican State Representative Jacob Anderegg (pictured). The senator plans to come back to a bill he had held off on introducing for the last two years, while the fight on gay marriage was in full swing. Senator Anderegg's bill would allow clergy and justices of the peace to refuse particpation in same-sex weddings.

Said Anderegg: The bill reasserts and re-establishes fundamental principles: I have a religious objection. You can’t force me or compel me to do it." 


Barney Frank Criticizes HRC President Chad Griffin's Apology to the Trans Community for ENDA 2007

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In an interview with The GA Voice, Barney Frank sounds off on Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin's recent apology to the transgender community for HRC's endorsement of a stripped down version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act back in 2007 that did not provide gender identity protections alongside sexual orientation.

That bill, introduced by Frank, passed the House 235-184 but was never voted on in the Senate. 

Said Frank:

Chad Griffin’s one of those people whose political judgment seems to be off. The fact is that HRC and I and everybody else were for an inclusive bill in 2007. The issue was we did not have the votes for an inclusive bill. It wasn’t a failure of will. Then the question was, was something better than nothing? Was it better to pass a bill that was protective of lesbian, gay and bisexual people or pass nothing? We tried very hard.

JohnsonPeople have this mistaken view of the civil rights movement and say, ‘Well the black people never compromised, they got the whole thing.’ That is just silly nonsense. The first civil rights bill that was passed in ’57 was fairly moderate but it had some good things, and then one passed in ’60, and then one passed in ’64. People are now saying, ‘Well we don’t want ENDA to be just about employment, we want it cover housing, etc.” Well that national federal civil rights bill that Lyndon Johnson signed in 1964 that we’re all celebrating today didn’t include housing! Housing didn’t come until a separate bill was passed after Martin Luther King was murdered in 1968. The notion that you can win your entire victory at once is historically and politically flawed.

The transgender community had this mistaken view that if Nancy Pelosi waved a magic wand, transgender would be included. And we were insisting to them that, look we don’t have the votes, help us lobby. Instead of trying to put pressure on the people who were against them, they thought they could just insist that we do it. We said, ‘We’re trying, but we need your help.’

Frank goes on in the interview to discuss how the topic of trans rights has come a long way in the seven years since then, as well as reveal what he misses most about being a congressman - the friendships and the ability to influence policy. 

Check out the full interview HERE


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