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GOP Congresswoman Throws Cold Water on ENDA 'Discharge Petition'

Advocates have long suggested that a discharge petition, used when a committee leader refuses to bring a measure up for consideration, is the only way to move ENDA forward in the House of Representatives, but at least one GOP sponsor says that won't be happening, the Washington Blade reports:

RoslehtinenRep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), an original co-sponsor of ENDA in the U.S. House, said through a spokesperson that she would not sign a discharge petition to force House leadership to move the bill to the floor.

“Rep. Ros-Lehtinen will not be signing a discharge petition as it is a partisan political tool,” said Keith Fernandez, a Ros-Lehtinen spokesperson.

The Washington Blade reached out to all seven Republican co-sponsors of ENDA in the U.S. House to ask whether they’d be willing to sign a discharge petition, but Ros-Lehtinen’s office was the only one that responded. In addition to Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican co-sponsors are Reps. Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Jon Runyan (N.J.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Michael Coffman (Colo.) and Chris Gibson (N.Y.).

ENDA discussion picked up this week after Vice President Joe Biden told the Huffington Post that he sees no downside in the President signing an executive order protecting LGBT people in the workplace.


Biden Remarks on ENDA Prompt Renewed Grilling of White House Over Executive Order

Jay_carney

In ani interview on Wednesday with the HuffPost, Vice President Joe Biden said he didn't see any downside in the President issuing an executive order  on LGBT workplace discrimination but said that the White House still prefers the matter be handled legislatively, by passing ENDA.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about that statement yesterday.

Here is the transcript, via the White House:

Q    The Vice President said yesterday that he doesn’t see any downside to the President taking executive action on LGBT workplace discrimination.  Does the President agree?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think the complete statement was that what we’re focused on -- the big accomplishment, which would be passage by both houses of Congress and the signing into law by the President of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

I think it’s -- points have been made, and I think in response to something I said earlier, that it’s clear that executive orders aren’t necessarily completely overlapping with what would be achieved by legislation.  I think there’s no doubt that the legislation would be a far greater accomplishment and more broadly applied.  And that is why we continue to push the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass that, because those who oppose it, I hope -- at least their children -- will regret the reasons they put forward for opposing it, because they sound a lot like the reasons opponents argued against civil rights legislation in the past.  And they were wrong there.  They’re wrong now.

So I don’t have any updates on suggested or proposed executive orders.  What I can tell you is that we still call on Congress, the House, to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Q    What is there a reluctance to do something on the executive order when it could complement this broader push that you guys really want?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I just don’t engage in discussion about speculative executive orders.  When the President decides to take action using his administrative authority, some --

Q    But the Vice President speculated.  He said that he didn’t see any downside.

MR. CARNEY:  No, I think he answered a question about it, as I have repeatedly.   And I’m happy to.  I think this is an incredibly important issue, and I think it is remarkable how much progress has been made and remarkable that there is still resistance to the progress that remains to be made.  That’s certainly the President’s view.

I just don’t -- I try not to engage in speculation about any executive action the President may or may not take.  What I can tell you is that there is legislation on Capitol Hill that we strongly support and would like to see passed by the House.  Thank you all very much.

In March, 195 lawmakers, all Dems, signed a letter urging Obama to issue the executive order.


Houston Mayor Annise Parker Introduces Ordinance Protecting LGBT City Workers From Discrimination

Today, Houston mayor Annise Parker introduced an Equal Rights Ordinance that would protect the city’s public and private employees from workplace, housing and public accommodation discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Anisse_parkerNews 92 FM reports that “Religious organizations would be exempt in order to avoid First Amendment issues," and that "Parker plans to present the draft ordinance to the Houston City Council Quality of Life Committee on April 30. Consideration by the full council is scheduled for May 7.”

John Wright at Lone Star Q adds that, “Parker previously indicated that an earlier draft of the proposed ordinance didn’t include citywide employment protections, leading to a major push by LGBT advocates to have the provision added.”

Wright also adds that Houston was “the only major city in Texas, and one of the few in the nation, that lacks citywide LGBT protections,” and that “Mayor Parker has exempted companies with fewer than 50 employees… three times higher than under the Austin or Dallas [non-discrimination ordinances], or under the federal [Employment Non-Discrimination Act].” Wright surmises that Parker may have had to do this in order to earn votes for the ordinance’s passage.

The Human Rights Campaign’s National Field Director Marty Rouse thanked Mayor Parker for leading on the issue:

“It is far past time to protect the citizens of Houston from all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As the nation’s fourth largest city, Houston is an epicenter for business and culture. Cities thrive when all citizens feel welcome and part of the cultural fabric. Today, Mayor Parker told every Houstonian that they are a valued part of the city’s future."


Apple CEO Tim Cook Again Urges Congress to Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Tim cookApple CEO Tim Cook took to Twitter on Friday to once again urge Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, writing:

The House should mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act by passing ENDA. @SpeakerBoehner @GOPLeader @NancyPelosi @WhipHoyer

ENDA passed the Senate with bipartisan support back in November, but has continued to face stiff opposition from GOP leadership in the House. 


Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman Becomes Seventh House Republican To Support ENDA

As the battle to get an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) signed into law wages on, Politico reports that Colorado representative Mike Coffman has signed on to become the seventh GOP co-sponsor of the legislation in the House of Representatives:

CoffmanThat Coffman is one of the first Republicans coming out in support of ENDA is no surprise, and it highlights another step in his political evolution. The Colorado Republican has reversed positions on immigration and abortion in recent months as he tries to fend off an challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in Colorado’s competitive sixth district.

“I see this legislation as the workplace equivalent of the Golden Rule — do unto others, as you would have them do unto you,” Coffman said in a statement to POLITICO. “In the workplace, in 2014, we should judge employees the way we would want to be judged — based on our qualifications, our contributions and by our character, period.”

ENDA cleared the Senate last year and now must be passed by the House of Representatives before being sent to the President for his signature or veto.

Coffman joins fellow Republican Representatives Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Charles Dent (Pa.), Jon Runyan (N.J.) and Chris Gibson (N.Y.) in sponsoring the bill. Eight house Democrats are currently not co-sponsoring the legislation: they are Reps. Dan Lipinksi (Ill.), Jim Costa (Calif.), John Barrow (Ga.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Pete Gallego (Texas), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Gene Green (Texas) and Nick Rahall (W.Va.). The bill still needs support from 16 more representatives to receive the required majority to pass in the House. However, even if the bill gained the necessary traction  among rank and file representatives, it would still need to be granted a vote on the House floor by Speaker of the House John Boehner, something Boehner has said he would not do in 2014. For that reason, many prominent political players, including the HRC and DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias, have expressed frustration at the White House’s refusal to consider an ENDA executive order.


Monday Morning Speed Read: Ohio, Michigan, 'ENDA' Executive Order, Hillary Clinton

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

T_blackOHIO ON THE CUSP:

A federal district court judge in Cincinnati surprised many in court Friday when he announced he will issue a ruling within 10 days declaring the Ohio ban on recognizing marriages of same-sex couples unconstitutional. Judge Timothy Black (an Obama appointee) heard arguments April 4 in Henry v. Wymyslo. The lawsuit was brought by three married lesbian couples expecting to give birth soon and a gay male couple seeking to adopt. The four couples were seeking a court order to force the state to put the names of both parents on the birth certificates of their children-to-be. Black, who previously ruled in favor of two married same-sex couples seeking the right to have a surviving spouse’s name listed on a death certificate, read a statement to the courtroom saying he would find the ban unconstitutional. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the state will appeal, and he is expected to seek a stay.

SchuetteMICHIGAN SEEKS A LEAP ‘FORWARD’:

The Michigan attorney general on Friday filed a petition with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, asking the court to bypass the usual three-judge panel hearing and go straight to a full appeals court review. "Advancing our case to a hearing before the entire panel of Sixth Circuit judges will move us forward more quickly, and minimize delays in ultimately reaching the U.S. Supreme Court,” explained Attorney General Bill Schuette in a press statement. “This move also offers the added benefit of conserving taxpayer resources by shortening the timeline of the litigation." Cases are moving quickly through two other circuits, both of which will be heard by three-judge panels in the coming days. If the Sixth Circuit grants Michigan’s request, it could make DeBoer v. Snyder the first to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, but that doesn’t guarantee that the Supreme Court would agree to hear that case.

CarneyREDUNDANT OR RETRACING HISTORY?

The Human Rights Campaign was unhappy Thursday with comments from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about why President Obama won’t sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The White House has been sending mixed messages about the president’s willingness to sign an executive order but Carney has said in the past that an executive order is the “wrong approach” and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is the “right way to go.” Asked at a routine press briefing April 3 whether the president would sign an executive order if Congress passed ENDA, Carney said passage of ENDA would make an executive order “redundant.” HRC issued a statement Friday saying, “We couldn’t disagree more.” HRC pointed out that President Johnson signed an executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors the year after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

SOME REDUNDACY ALLOWED:

Just three days after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said an LGBT-related executive order would be “redundant” to the pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Associated Press reported that President Obama will sign an executive order Tuesday that “is similar to language in a Senate bill aimed at closing a pay gap between men and women.”

HillaryREADY FOR HILLARY:

There are two big LGBT fundraisers tonight for an independent political action committee raising money for an expected presidential bid by Hillary Clinton. One, in Manhattan, is hosted by gay philanthropist and politico Jon Stryker and features California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. The other, at a gay bar in West Hollywood, is hosted by a group called Out & Ready for Hillary and will feature a number of actors and political figures.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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