The Employee Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would provide federal protections to LGBT men and women so they cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation has unfortunately been at a literal standstill for years. Too often many democrats, including President Obama have made promises to help pass the bill so that many of us would have peace of mind. Now it appears that the bill is starting again and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly LGBT politician to be elected in the US Senate, is willing and ready to do what’s necessary to get this bill passed, including reaching over partisan lines. Here’s more:
In a Thursday interview with The Huffington Post, she said a Democratic senator approached her earlier in the day to ask her to explain ENDA in more detail and clarify some of the provisions.
“I said, ‘Absolutely, we can sit down and do that anytime,'” said Baldwin. “I’ll be having those same conversations with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle too.”
Only three Democratic senators have not signed on to cosponsor ENDA: Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.). Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) are the only Republican senators supporting it so far.
The push in the Senate is being led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who is the lead sponsor of the bill. He has been meeting one-on-one with his colleagues and having floor conversations between votes in an effort to get them to join him.
So far, Republicans haven’t shown much eagerness to back ENDA. Most seem to be either unaware of the legislation or concerned it will lead to excessive litigation against businesses and hurt religious organizations.
In response, Baldwin pointed to the fact so many states and localities have already passed non-discrimination ordinances, and they haven’t led to excessive litigation.
“In fact, often it’s provided the tools to work these [cases] out without having to resort to filing lawsuits,” she said. “When people learn, for example, that there is a law at the local level, that they’ve violated it, there’s often an effort to address the situation in many different ways. So we have examples we can point to to when someone says that the sky is falling. It’s not. The sky isn’t falling.”
It’s great to see Senator Baldwin ready to sit down and find common ground with the republican party and hopefully she will be able to find GOP members that are willing to stand for equality rather than discrimination. I’ve mentioned this before so again here’s my take: It’s not just President Obama that is at fault for dropping the ball on ENDA. It’s also some of the leaders in the LGBT community as well that campaigned only for marriage equality as they saw that is the issue that would have a more favorable outcome. We have been focused on marriage equality and same sex marriage and that is all we as a collective have been focused on as if we’re unable to multitask more than one cause at a time which isn’t true.
Look at where we are now, all the momentum that HRC and GLAAD could be using to galvanize this community after Prop 8 was overturned and section three of DOMA struck down has this community energized more than the 2012 election with almost as much on the line. But instead it appears that time and donations are being spent on making rainbow stickers for Facebook statuses. This tepid, tiptoeing around the other issues we face as a community have been one of the biggest things slowing us down. We need to be making it clear that there are still two DOMA statutes in place that need to be taken down so as I wrote about yesterday, our fight is nowhere near the finish line.
When are they going to use their platform to help organize rallies to help get the word out for LGBT and their families to contact their local and state democrats to do their job and asking them to fulfill the promises made on campaign trials and town hall meetings. They aren’t even showing any signs of implementing strategies for the 37 states where same sex marriage is illegal.
What about transgender rights and GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act) so that they have the same protections all citizens of this country should have? We know the history of both these organizations with the transgender community with little to no progress in recent months other than featuring one transgender woman in a t-shirt campaign where we don’t even know where the proceeds will go to help, if they do at all. It’s easy to point fingers when you believe you’ve done something when in all honesty, adding to the complacency that this community is rife with and makes those that are working overtime for solutions have to work that much harder.
People are excited at the possibilities they now see after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Now that people see that being fully realized citizens of this country LGBT men and women are willing and ready to speak out and promote change while looking to see what the next move should be. You have their attention HRC and GLAAD, so please use it to it’s full advantage. So we don’t have to wait for baby boomers to fade out in order for all of us to have the same rights that some of us have now.