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Rep. Jared Polis Files Discharge Petition for ENDA with Narrowed Religious Exemption

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511e857e6970c-320wiOut Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) announced today that he has filed a discharge petition in the House of Representatives for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Polis is the chief sponsor of ENDA and is also the co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus. From Rep. Polis' statement:

A discharge petition is a procedure to force a vote on legislation if it receives signatures from the majority of the House of Representatives. This move comes after the House Republican leadership has continued to refuse to hold a vote on this bipartisan bill.
 
“This is common sense legislation that is supported by a majority of Americans and was passed overwhelmingly by the United States Senate,” said Rep. Polis. “The Republicans have been dragging their feet on this bill for too long, allowing workplace discrimination against hardworking LGBT Americans to continue. In our nation that was founded on the notion that with hard work and dedication anyone can get ahead, it is unthinkable that employees can still be fired for who they love or what gender they are. I hope Members from both sides of the aisle will sign this petition and protect all Americans from discrimination in the work place.”

In July, some speculated that a discharge petition was a likely move that Polis would make. Meanwhile, many activist groups, including the ACLU, Lambda Legal, NCLR and Transgender Law Center pulled their support from ENDA because of a religious exemption in the legislation. The HRC held on though, insisting that a narrower religious exemption was needed as a way forward. Polis soon took action in hopes of keeping ENDA alive. The Washington Blade reports:

Following the outcry of these groups, Polis introduced a resolution before the House Rules Committee, H.Res. 678, that would narrow ENDA’s religious exemption in the event the committee approved the bill for a vote on the House floor.

It’s that version of ENDA that would come up for a vote if the discharge petition is successful. But it remains to be seen how that version of ENDA would fare in the Senate, where a more expanded religious exemption was deemed necessary for passage.

If passed, ENDA would "bar employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, if a majority of House members, or 218, sign the petition."

You can read the discharge petition HERE.


LGBT Activist Group Queer Nation Targets Jared Polis on ENDA

Queernation

The LGBTQ activist group Queer Nation, founded by one-time ACT UP members, is targeting Democratic House Representative Jared Polis, according to their website.

Polis, who is a gay man, recently introduced two resolutions to the House floor as a first step towards triggering a discharge petition to pass a modified version of ENDA.

“Jared Polis and the Democrats are desperately trying to salvage a worthless bill, but a pig wearing lipstick is still a pig,” said Andrew Miller, a member of Queer Nation in a press release. “No version of ENDA will make LGBT people equal under the law. Only a comprehensive civil rights law will do that."


Gay Texas Foster Children Caretaker Fired For PDA With His Fiance: VIDEO

Casey stegall

A caretaker for foster children in Lubbock, Texas, was fired recently after he introduced some teenage clients to his fiance during an outing at a water park on the Fourth of July, reports Lone Star Q.

Officials at the Children’s Home of Lubbock, which is affiliated with a Christian church, accused Casey Stegall of engaging in a public display of affection with another man.  

Speaking to The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Children’s Home president Lynn Harms said:

“When you are implementing life training and so forth — particularly with children — to put a confused message out there is counterproductive. If you want to try to force our culture to meet your expectations, that’s not going to go well. I don’t feel like the culture here has to meet an individual’s desire for the world to be different.”

Harms also said that gay employees who “fly under the radar” are accepted but that other gay employees have been fired because of “how they conduct their business.”

Devastated by his termination, Stegall has since contacted attorneys about filing a lawsuit.

Although cities around the U.S., including Houston, have introduced municipal ordinances banning anti-LGBT employment discrimination, Lubbock has not done so.

Last week, President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban anti-LGBT discrimination by private employers, remains stalled in the U.S. House. However, last week the Washington Blade reported that Democratic House Representative Jared Polis is preparing to initiate a discharge petition for (ENDA).

Watch a video of Stegall discussing the termination of his contract, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Rep. Jared Polis Preparing Discharge Petition For ENDA?

Democratic House Representative Jared Polis is preparing to initiate a discharge petition for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, according to the Washington Blade. A discharge petition, in short, is a means of bringing a bill directly to the floor without consideration from committee or direct input from the House leadership. Considering Speaker John Boehner’s steadfast refusal to allow discussion of ENDA, a discharge petition could be one of the few remaining opportunities to introduce the legislation.

Jared_Polis_Official_2012Polis, ENDA’s chief sponsor, has filed two new resolutions that would open ENDA up for House floor consideration. The second of Polis’s resolutions, H.Res.678, comes in light of widespread backlash from LGBT organizations as they dropped support for ENDA’s religious exemption clause.

H.Res.678 would bring a version of ENDA to the floor with an exemption clause modeled after that written into Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Though Polis’s logic is political logic is sound, the process of actually enacting a discharge petition is fraught with logistical difficulties. From the Washington Blade:

To start a discharge petition on a bill, 30 legislative days must have passed since the legislation was referred to committee. In this case, the Senate-passed version of ENDA was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on January 8, 2014.

Additionally, seven legislative days must have passed since a resolution to consider the legislation was referred to the Rules Committee. As such, the process for collecting signatures a discharge petition on the Senate-passed could begin at any time in the House, but the same process for a discharge petition for a bill with an amended religious exemption couldn’t begin until July 31.

Polis’s plans directly mirror allusions made by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last fall after Boehner first blocked ENDA, which at the time was backed by almost 200 members of the House.

“I would think it would be ‘once burned, twice learned,’ and that they would, shall we say, save some time by taking it right to our committee and to the floor,” Pelosi lamented at the time. “Ending discrimination is what we are all about as Americans, and we should not have discrimination in the workplace because of gender identity.”


MSNBC's Alex Wagner Looks At Fallout From Hobby Lobby Decision And Implications For ENDA: VIDEO

Alex

On her MSNBC show Wednesday, Alex Wagner discussed Senate Democrats' plan to introduce the "Not My Boss's Business" Bill in response to the Supreme Court's now famous 5-4 decision in favor of Hobby Lobby and "religious exemptions." Democratic Senator Mark Udall of Colorado spoke with Wagner as did the ACLU's James Esseks who paid particular attention to how the outcome in Hobby Lobby has altered the debate on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), with many gay rights groups withdrawing their support for ENDA earlier this week because of the religious exemption.

Dig deeper, AFTER THE JUMP...

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HRC's Chad Griffin Says Congress Must Narrow ENDA's Religious Exemption and Pass Full LGBT Civil Rights Bill

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Wednesday called on Congress to narrow the religious exemption in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act one day after several other top LGBT rights groups including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the ACLU pulled their support of the bill.

GriffinHRC had come under criticism for standing by the bill. Said Griffin in today's statement, posted at Buzzfeed:

The Human Rights Campaign supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for a very simple reason. It will guarantee millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all 50 states explicit, reliable protections from discrimination in the workplace. We call on our allies in Congress to improve this bill’s overly broad religious exemption. A strong ENDA is worth fighting for because we cannot ignore the urgent need of countless LGBT people who do not have the luxury of waiting for these protections.

...We cannot and will not ignore the imperative of this moment. As long as this Congress is in session, we will fight for ENDA — with a narrowed religious exemption — because these workplace protections will change millions of lives for the better. But this movement has a responsibility to also chart a course for the future.

Griffin also stated the need for a full LGBT civil rights bill:

But regardless of whether or not ENDA passes in this session of Congress, it is time for the LGBT movement to throw its weight behind a fully comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill. A bill that, at long last, would bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all core civil rights categories — including housing, public accommodations, credit, education and, if ENDA fails to pass, in employment. This is a visionary idea that Congresswoman Bella Abzug brought to Congress in 1974. Its time has come.


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