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Boehner Tells LGBT Caucus There's 'No Way' ENDA Will Get a Vote in 2014

House Speaker John Boehner told members of the LGBT Equality Caucus last week at a historic first meeting that the Employment Non-Discrimination act had no chances of seeing a vote in 2014, the Washington Blade reports.

BoehnerThe information was relayed to the Blade through Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA):

“A number of us did meet with, actually the caucus met with Speaker Boehner,” Takano said. “He said no way was it going to get done in this session.”

Calling the discussion between Boehner and the lawmakers “a historic sort of meeting,” Takano later clarified he was referring to the LGBT Equality Caucus, a 113-member group of lawmakers committed to advancing LGBT rights, and said the meeting took place “a few days ago” or last week.

A “session” of Congress is equivalent to one of the two years in which a particular Congress meets before a new Congress is seated, so Takano’s account of the meeting indicates ENDA won’t see a House vote in 2014.

Details on exactly who attended the meeting or its exact date were not disclosed.

LGBT advocates had been pushing for a mention of the legislation from President Obama in his State of the Union address but that did not happen.

Meanwhile, the White House says that despite the lack of a mention ENDA is still a priority, MetroWeekly reports:

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to an event in Pittsburgh, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama's position on LGBT-rights is "crystal clear."

"When it comes to the Employment Non-discrimination Act, he is fiercely supportive of that effort, enormously gratified by the fact the Senate took action and very hopeful that the House will follow suit. Because as I've said many times, reflecting his opinion, members of the House who block this are being left at the station as the train moves forward on what would obviously be an America where equal rights are extended to all Americans," Carney said. "So I think his record on LGBT rights is crystal-clear, his position is crystal-clear, and he continues to press Congress to take action on ENDA."

The other option would be to issue an executive order, which the President appears to be reluctant to do.


Congressional Hispanic Caucus Votes to Endorse ENDA

A resolution proposed by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was approved by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday. The Washington Blade reports:

Rep. Linda SanchezIn a statement, Sanchez, vice chair of the caucus, called ENDA "an important, long overdue civil rights law."

"Equality shouldn't wait," Sanchez said. "We need to break down the barriers of intolerance and bigotry that have kept too many talented people out of the workplace. The vast majority of Americans believe that job performance is what should determine whether you get hired, fired or promoted. It's time for the House to pass ENDA and end workplace discrimination."

House aides said two-thirds of the caucus voted to endorse ENDA, but wouldn't disclose the way each of the 26 members of the caucus voted. According to aides, a majority vote is necessary for approval.

Freedom to Work, the only LGBT advocacy organization working exclusively to end anti-gay employment discrimination, praised the caucus's decision. Said president Tico Almeida:

"Freedom to Work applauds the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for its tremendous support for LGBT workplace fairness, and especially Rep. Linda Sanchez with whom we worked on the recent ENDA field hearing in Los Angeles to delve into the findings of the 'Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color' report by the Movement Advancement Project and a coalition of civil rights organizations," Almeida said.

ENDA received bipartisan approval in the Senate earlier this month and, more recently, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers urged Speaker John Boehner to allow a floor vote for ENDA. Boehner, however, remains stubbornly unwilling to allow the vote to take place, saying that "people are already protected in the workplace" and that ENDA would result in frivolous lawsuits.


Boehner on Whether He Believes the GOP Should Support Gay Candidates: 'I Do' — VIDEO

Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner was asked about a Politico story today reporting that Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) was campaigning for the party to withhold funds for openly gay Republican candidates, specifically Richard Tisei and Carl DeMaio.

Boehner was asked by CNN's Dana Bash whether he believes the GOP should support them.

"I do," replied Boehner. "I do."

The question followed remarks in which Boehner said he felt the party needed to me "more sensitive".

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Boehner on Whether He Believes the GOP Should Support Gay Candidates: 'I Do' — VIDEO" »


Report: Majority in Every Congressional District Supports Law Against Anti-Gay Employment Discrimination

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In a historic 64-32 vote, the Senate this month approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would ban discrimination in hiring and firing based on sexual orientation or gender identity, sending the bill to the House, where it's destined to languish--at least as long as John Boehner is Speaker of the House.

But a new report from the Williams Institute--a legal research and policy think tank at UCLA Law School--demonstrates that if House members voted according to their constituencies' beliefs, ENDA might very well pass unanimously:

A majority of Americans in every U.S. congressional district support laws that protect against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, such as the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed last week by the U.S. Senate . . .

When a similar bill was considered in 2007, 183 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted against it, even though a majority of their constituents supported the policy. The current ENDA now awaits consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, and research confirms that ENDA would pass if all members followed their constituents.

A very interesting interactive graphic comparing 2007 to 2013 can be found HERE on the Williams Institute's website.

One rather big caveat worth mentioning in terms of the Williams Institute report: the public opinion data used by the center looked only at laws that would prevent employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  The most recent version of ENDA includes language providing protections for gender identity as well--protections that were initially included but eventually stripped from the unsuccessful 2007 bill.  If polled on sexual orientation and gender identity protections, some Americans' responses would undoubtedly be different.

Nevertheless, the Washington Post's Monkey Cage blog took a similar look at state-by-state opinion polls before the Senate voted on ENDA, and came to the same conclusions as the Williams Institute:

Will ENDA receive the necessary votes? If senators listened to their constituents, the bill would pass overwhelmingly. Nearly all recent opinion polls indicate that a large majority of the American public — more than 70 percent — supports efforts to make employment discrimination against gay men and and lesbians illegal. Of course, these national numbers are not what the senators are likely to care about. However, when we use national polls to estimate opinion by state, we find that majorities in all 50 states support ENDA-like legislation (note that in 1996, majorities in only 36 states supported ENDA). Today, public support ranges from a low of 63 percent in Mississippi to a high of 81 percent in Massachusetts.

Of course, 32 senators did in fact end up voting against the majority of their constituents that supports employment discrimination protections for LGBT Americans, so it's a pipe dream to think that the Williams Institute report means anything different will happen in the House.  Still, it's worth pointing out that, on this issue at least, Republican members of Congress are pretty far out of step with the very citizens they're representing.

Check out a district-by-district map of the U.S. with the results of the 2007 ENDA vote, AFTER THE JUMP, via the Williams Institute. The 2013 version of the map can be found at the beginning of this post.

Continue reading "Report: Majority in Every Congressional District Supports Law Against Anti-Gay Employment Discrimination" »


House Speaker John Boehner Secures Meeting Room for Anti-Gay Group Barred from Senate by Mark Kirk

This morning we reported that Senator Mark Kirk had barred  the virulently anti-gay World Congress of Families from meeting in the Senate's Dirksen office building, but apparently the group has found a safe haven at a House office building thanks to Speaker John Boehner, Buzzfeed reports:

BoehnerWorld Congress of Families president Allan Carlson praised Boehner’s intervention at in opening remarks at the event, which is focusing on what “pro-family legislators” can learn from foreign laws like Russia’s ban on “promoting non-traditional sexual relationships to minors.”

“At least in the House of Representatives people have not succumbed to the great fear” of LGBT activists, Carlson said, likening the situation to developments in Germany, France, and Italy as fascism took hold of Europe. “A great fear seems to be descending over what has been called the world’s greatest deliberative body … ideas are being suppressed, debate is being shut off, and minds are being closed.”


John Boehner: 'I See No Basis or Need' for Legislation Protecting LGBT People in the Workplace

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was asked today by the Washington Blade's Chris Johnson about whether he'll allow a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was passed in an historic Senate vote last week.

BoehnerSaid Boehner:

"I am opposed to discrimination of any kind, in the workplace and any place else. But I think this legislation that I’ve dealt with as chairman of The Education & The Workforce Committee…is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits. People are already protected in the workplace. I’m opposed to continuing this. Listen, I understand people have differing opinions on this issue, and I respect those opinions. But as someone who’s worked in the employment law area for all my years in the State House and all my years here, I see no basis or no need for this legislation."

Currently, people can still be fired simply for being gay in 29 states.


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