ENDA to Be Reintroduced in Congress
Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank announced on Wednesday, March 30, he plans to reintroduce a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the workplace.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-Fla.], gay Congressmen David Cicilline [D-R.I.] and Jared Polis [D-Colo.] and lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin [D-Wis.] are among the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act’s more than two dozen co-sponsors. Frank conceded it is highly unlikely that the GOP-controlled House will pass ENDA during this Congress, but he stressed to activists who attended the Capitol Hill announcement that they need to begin to lay the groundwork for ENDA’s eventual passage--which he predicted would happen sometime over the next four to six years--now.
"The essential part of it is that people do the lobbying now," said Frank.
Congressman George Miller [D-Calif.] echoed Frank’s call for LGBT activists and their allies to lobby members of Congress to back the measure. "We see a pool of hard-working people who are discriminated against--almost instantaneously," he said. "Very successful people can be harmed dramatically and instantaneously in their workplace."
Frank introduced an identical measure in 2009, but it failed to move out of committee.
Some LGBT activists were angry that the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian service members took priority over ENDA in Congress’ lame-duck session late last year. President Obama signed the "don’t ask, don’t tell" repeal bill into law late last year, but Frank stressed it was unrealistic to expect Congress to simultaneously act on DADT and ENDA.
"There was no chance to both of those," he said, noting ENDA did not have the necessary 60 votes in the U.S. Senate-the Senate voted 65-31 in December to repeal "don’t ask, don’t tell". "That’s what dictated what we did. You can’t do everything at the same time."