Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sen. Nelson (D-FL) Announces Support for Federal LGBT Rights Bill

Good news! The chances of historic action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) improved recently with the news that U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida has signed on to co-sponsor the federal bill to ban LGBT employment discrimination nationwide.

The Washington Blade reports on recent ENDA developments:

After months of lobbying and public pressure, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) on Monday became the 54th sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
The senator’s name is listed as among the sponsors of ENDA on “Thomas,” the website for the Library of Congress that monitors legislation. According to the website, Nelson signed on as a supporter Monday, the same day Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that a Senate vote on ENDA would take place before Thanksgiving.
Republicans Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also voted for ENDA in committee. That means the legislation now has 57 votes, which is three short of overcoming a filibuster.
The Florida Democrat’s support arguably places the legislation well ahead of any other legislation specific to an LGBT issues in terms of the number of co-sponsors. Since Sen. Jay Rockfeller became a supporter, ENDA has exceeded the number of co-sponsors for legislation that led to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in 2010 and the 2001 version of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
It is perfectly legal to fire employees because of their sexual orientation in twenty-nine states; while technically it is illegal to fire someone based on their gender identity only 17 states have laws explicitly prohibiting the practice, which is believed to be widespread.

Even if there are 60 votes in the Senate to pass ENDA (which is likely since it is only 3 votes shy right now) it is considered almost impossible for ENDA to pass the House of Representatives while it is under Republican control.

Hat/tip to HRC

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