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Saturday, November 10, 2007

ENDA to be Introduced in the Senate

Lead Sponsors will be Ted Kennedy (D, Massachussetts) and Susan Collins (R, Maine).

Kennedy To Introduce ENDA In Senate
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: November 9, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET

(Washington) Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) says he will introduce a Senate version of the the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the current session.

"I’m working with leadership to move this bill forward as quickly as possible," Kennedy said in a statement.

The Massachusetts Democrat has a long history of advocating for LGBT civil rights. Most recently he guided the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act to passage.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed the House on Wednesday (story) but without protections for the transgendered.

"Although the bill is narrower than many of us had hoped, the House action is still a main step in the long journey toward full civil rights for every American."

The Senate bill also is expected to exclude gender identity.

Republican are expected to mount less opposition to the bill in Senate.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) has announced she will be the lead co-sponsor.

In a statement Collins said that passage in the House "provides important momentum".

"There is growing support in the Senate for strengthening federal laws to protect American workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation," she said in her statement.

ENDA would make it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in hiring, firing, promoting or paying an employee.

"Forty-three years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At that time, some in our country were violently opposed to outlawing racial discrimination, and it was very difficult for Congress to reach a consensus," recalled Kennedy.

"But the best in America, and the best in the Senate, prevailed. My first major speech in this body as a freshman Senator was on the Civil Rights Act. I said then that 'I firmly believe a sense of fairness and goodwill also exists in the minds and hearts' of Americans, and that laws creating the conditions for equality will help that spirit of fairness win out over prejudice. I still believe that today."

The White House has said President Bush will veto ENDA if it is passed.

It also has threatened a veto of the Shepard Act. That bill is currently in conference, working out differences between the House and Senate versions. Sen. Kennedy tagged the bill to legislation on military spending. If the bill in that form goes to the White House Bush would have veto the spending bill to kill the Shepard Act.

A similar move could be used to prod the President on ENDA.

The theocrats are clearly concerned about President Bush signing ENDA, from a Concerned Women for America alert posted on the anti-gay Americans for Truth site:

CWA: First Amendment Trampled With ENDA Passage
November 8th, 2007

CWA Release, November 8, 2007

[Call your senators at 202-224-3121 or go to; call President Bush and urge him to veto ENDA if it passes at 202-456-1414 or 202-456-1111, or]

Washington, D.C. — On Wednesday, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives passed — largely along party lines — H.R. 3685, the so-called Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA), by a vote of 235–184. [Click HERE for the Roll Call and HERE to see which Congressmen voted against their party's majority.]

Matt Barber, CWA's Policy Director for Cultural Issues, said, "By passing this Orwellian piece of legislation, the Democrat-controlled House has displayed exceptional arrogance. Congress apparently believes it has carte blanche authority to nullify any constitutional provision which it finds bothersome. In this case, they've drawn a black line through the free exercise clause of the First Amendment."

ENDA contains an extremely weak religious exemption which might partially protect some religious organizations but would leave many others — such as Bible bookstores and many Christian schools — entirely unprotected. It would additionally crush individual business owners' guaranteed First Amendment rights.

I encourage people to write Senator Coleman and Senator Klobuchar to encourage them to signon to ENDA. I also encourage people to call the White House to tell President Bush to ignore the bleatings of the bigots.