News & Politics

ENDA – Call for Action!

Employment Non-Discrimination ActIt seems that marriage equality is the issue blowing up everyone’s Facebook and Twitter feed. Welcome to the equality club, Illinois and New Jersey! That makes 15 states that have marriage equality and, Hawaii, you’re up next! But marriage is not the only hot issue on the legislative burner. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is seeing some historic and exciting movement.

 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • In 29 states, it is currently legal for someone to be fired from their jobs, kicked out of their homes, or denied services at businesses on the basis of sexual orientation.  Discrimination based on gender identity is legal 33 states. Sound crazy? Sadly, it’s true.
  • This week marks the first time in 17 years that that there will be a vote on ENDA and the first time ever on a trans-inclusive version of the bill. See?  Historic.
  • President Obama has come out strongly in support of The Employment Non-Discrimination Act and  has urged Congress to pass it now.  POTUS has got our backs.
  • Monday night, the Senate advanced ENDA with a 61-30 cloture vote.  Cloture is a procedural vote (meaning motion to proceed) that is basically a formal opening of the conversation.
  • All Democrats and Independents  and seven Republicans of those present voted in favor of moving ENDA forward.  The Republicans who voted in favor are Senators Susan Collins (ME), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Rob Portman (OH), Pat Toomey (PA), Dean Heller (NV), Mark Kirk (IL) and Orrin Hatch (UT).  GOP supporter of ENDA, Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK), was not present for the vote.
  • What’s next?  There will be debate, floor speeches, and amendments.  Amendments may include off-topic attempts to sabotage passage but experts remain optimistic that the Senate will pass the bill.  A vote could come as early as Wednesday.

So, what can we do as history unfolds before our eyes?

Please call your Senators – yes, both of them.  It doesn’t matter if they are a co-sponsor or vocally against the legislation – make the call and ask/thank them for their vote in favor of The Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  It’s so important that Senators hear from their constituents.  The Capitol Switchboard number is  202-224-3121 and, if you call and tell them your state, they will connect you directly with your Senator’s office.

Never before has the Senate passed major civil-rights legislation protecting LGBT Americans. In 2007 a version of the bill covering only sexual orientation passed the house but gutting the bill of gender identity protections can’t be looked back on as a victory.  At the time, I was working at a national LGBT organization in DC and attended tense coalition meetings where I saw our movement splinter and, later, heal.  It wasn’t an easy time to be working in the LGBT movement and, at times, I wondered if we’d ever regain the unity required to move forward.

But here we are.

Despite facing a tough fight in the House (Republican leadership has already vowed to block passage), the progress we are seeing this week is monumental.

Be a part of it.

PHOTO CREDIT: HRC

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7 Comments

  1. Thanks so much, Sandra! Great summary and call to action.

  2. This was the perfect post to share on FB to get the word out. Thank you so much and yes – more please!

  3. Pingback: 2013: The Year in VQ Review - VillageQ

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