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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.”


John Boehner Pens CNN Op-Ed: 'Why We Must Sue The President'

Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner has written a column for CNN attempting to justify the House Republicans' latest waste of time and taxpayer money.

Writes Boehner:

...later this month, we will bring legislation to the House floor that would authorize the House of Representatives to file suit in an effort to compel President Obama to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country.

The President's response: "So sue me."

What's disappointing is the President's flippant dismissal of the Constitution we are both sworn to defend. It is utterly beneath the dignity of the office. I know the President is frustrated. I'm frustrated. The American people are frustrated, too.


Hate Group World Conference Of Families To Hold 2015 Convention In Salt Lake City

World congress of families

Anti-gay hate group The World Congress Of Families (WCF) intends to bring its annual convention to Salt Lake City in 2015.

The Illinois-based coalition of hate groups, which opposes homosexuality and abortion, claims to affirm and defend “the natural family as the fundamental unit of civilizations, thus renewing a stable and free society.  [The organization] is a practical effort to lead the international pro-family movement and build greater understanding and encourage new networks and initiatives among natural family advocates at the national and international levels.”

Last year, the WCF reserved a meeting room at the Dirksen Senate Office building, until it was shut down by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). However the meeting, billed as a discussion of “what can our pro-family legislators learn — positively and negatively — by studying our colleagues’ actions abroad," was later rescheduled at a House office building thanks to Speaker John Boehner.

According to The Sacramento Bee, the WCF coalition, which includes Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America, aims to bring together “people of different religions and ethnicities to promote the "natural human family.” The coalition describes the “natural human family” as one man and one woman raising children with love and discipline.

Conservative Utah-based think tank The Sutherland Institute put in the bid and is leading the event planning, according to WCF vice president and managing director Larry Jacobs.

Speaking to The Sacramento Bee, Ty Cobb, director of global engagement for The Human Rights Campaign, said:

"Whatever the World Congress of Families may believe in their head about the values of people of Salt Lake City, they are wrong. The values of the people of Salt Lake City are ones that promote inclusivity."

Utah has been a focal point in the fight for same-sex marriage in recent weeks, following the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to strike down the state's gay marriage ban.


Barney Frank: Don't Vote For Gay Republican Congressional Candidate Richard Tisei

Former Rep. Barney Frank has weighed in on one of 2014's tightest congressional races, that of his state Massachusetts' sixth district. 

1019_tierney-tisei-620x456It's a headline grabber — incumbent Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) versus Republican challenger Richard Tisei. While Rep. Tierney has been a staunch advocate of LGBT rights, Tisei may be poised to snatch votes from him. Rep. Tierney is staight, and Tisei is openly gay. If elected, Tisei would be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress.

If this story sounds familiar to you, you're not wrong. Two years ago, the same two candidates were squaring off in the same district. That time around, the race wrapped up tight — Tierney's 48% to Tisei's 47. 

This year, things could shake out differently. In February, Tisei was endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, leading to a bump in his polling data.

Wednesday evening, former Rep. Frank assembled a group of LGBT donors on Capitol Hill to discuss the congressional race and voice support for the incumbent Tierney.

6a00d8341c730253ef017d3e260216970c-250wiWhile the donors acknowledge allure in the idea that a gay Republican who could shake up the party, many suggest that this is not realistic — that it's more important to reduce the influence of Republican leader and LGBT rights opponent Rep John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Former Rep. Frank expands on the core reasons to not elect Tisei:

"I do believe it is very important to support gay and lesbian candidates. But the notion that we will tell an incumbent who has been absolutely perfect on gay, lesbian, bisexual [and] transgender issues — absolutely perfect — that perfection will do no good because he has sex with the wrong person, [that] is the antithesis of what we should be fighting for."

Concise and whip-smart as ever, but that's Barney Frank for you.

Frank's sentiment is echoed by the incumbent Rep. Tierney. While he would like to have more pro-gay Republcans in Congress, Tierney points out that electing them in the current political climate would have little effect.

"[Pro-gay Republicans aren't] allowed to even vote on the matter [of LGBT rights]. They don't get an opportunity. So you need to change the majority to have the matter brought up," he said. "We have currently a Congress that is going nowhere, slowly, under John Boehner."

[h/t HuffPo]


Boehner Says He'll Sue President Obama Over Use of Executive Orders

John Boehner has every intention of suing President Barack Obama over the President’s use of executive action, according to the House Speaker.

John_Boehner_official_portrait"On matters ranging from [health care] and energy to foreign policy and education, President Obama has repeatedly run an end-around on the American people and their elected legislators,” Boehner stated via memo. “[He has strained] the boundaries of the solemn oath he took on Inauguration Day.”

Boehner plans to bring a bill to the House floor this July in order to galvanize the filing of a lawsuit by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group. Conservatives claim that the President is overstepping his boundaries by working his way around legislative processes.

Despite longtime calls for the lawsuit from a number of rank and file Republicans, Boehner’s lawsuit is unlikely to be filed until after Congress’s upcoming week-long recess.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Wednesday said the lawsuit is "a subterfuge" to make up for the lack of accomplishments on the Republican side, CNN reports:

Pelosi said the House GOP effort to challenge the Defense of Marriage Act in court wasted $2.3 million in taxpayer money, and said "here we go again."

Obama has used his executive authority to push through a number of issues. Most recently, he directed the Department of Labor to extend family leave to same-sex couples. Previously, he raised the minimum wage for federal contractors and halt deportations for many children in the United States illegally.

Obama has also promised to sign an EO protecting LGBT contractors from discrimination.


Activist Claims DNC Chair Discouraged Dems from Urging Obama to Issue 'ENDA' Executive Order

A prominent activist is accusing DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, pictured) of discouraging Democratic lawmakers from signing a letter asking President Obama to issue an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination against LGBT people, the Washington Blade reports.

Wasserman-schultzHouse Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly said he will not allow a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which passed the Senate for the first time this year, and activists are growing impatient.

Said Paul Yandura, political director for gay philanthropist Jonathan Lewis, to the Blade:

"I was told personally by two members that she was tamping down on public calls for the president to make good on his promise — this was last year when the issue was really getting hot. She is most likely doing the same still," adding, "I think she doesn’t want to embarrass the president, and still doesn’t want to embarrass the president, because it is an embarrassment that he still hasn’t done it. We’re now coming down to the end of the second term, and if they don’t get moving on it, it’ll never even get implemented."

Wasserman Schultz's spokesperwon Mara Sloan called Yandura's assertions a "bald-faced lie," adding:

"The congresswoman believes the most effective way to ensure equal rights for LGBT Americans in the workplace is through passing comprehensive non-discrimination legislation. The congresswoman regularly speaks to the administration about issues important to the LGBT community, and will continue to be a fierce advocate for full equality."

Yandura said his claims are based on things he heard while collecting signatures for a 2013 letter urging Obama to issue the order.

More at the Blade....

WILL REPUBLICANS BE THE KEY TO ENDA?

SingerIn related news, a group of wealthy Republicans and former GOP lawmakers are joining an HRC-led campaign to push the House to take a vote on ENDA, USA Today reports:

"America is a place where the freedom to be who you are shouldn't be a barrier to your ability to get a job and provide for your family," said Paul Singer (pictured), a billionaire hedge fund founder and big Republican donor. Singer is putting $375,000 toward the push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. "In the workplace, employees should be judged on their merit and hard work and not on aspects that are irrelevant to their performance."

Fellow billionaire and GOP donor Seth Klarman also donated $375,000 to the campaign spearheaded by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights lobby. HRC is putting up an additional $1.3 million in the effort to get 218 House lawmakers — a majority of the chamber — on record in support of ENDA.

The campaign plans to go after 48 persuadable House Republicans and gain their support for the bill:

If the group can get 218 lawmakers on public record in support of the legislation, they say House GOP leaders, including Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, may have to rethink their decision not to vote this year.

Boehner told members of the LGBT caucus at an historic first meeting earlier this year that ENDA had no chances of seeing a vote in 2014.


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