The openly gay and lesbian members of Congress are making it clear they want a House vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act very soon. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told Lisa Keen he expects a vote following the spring recess, which runs March 29 to April 9:
Rep. Frank said in a phone interview Monday that he does not believe the increased rancor between Democrats and Republicans [over the health reform bill] will jeopardize passage of ENDA. He noted he recently picked up another Republican co-sponsor for the bill because the representative had received a visit from a couple of gay constituents.
Frank said he told Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee, “Now, it’s our turn.”
Meanwhile Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) told the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News the House has the votes to pass both ENDA and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” ”As someone who has actually counted the votes, I believe that there are [enough],” Baldwin said.
Asked whether the LGBT community can expect a vote on ENDA and DADT this year even though midterm elections are coming up, Baldwin said, “We want the votes [taken] as soon as possible.”
“Certainly there are members of Congress who are nervous because of the economy, the rate of joblessness,” she said. “Across the country, people are agitated. On the other hand, my constituents want to see bolder and quicker change, and so I actually see positive signs to follow through [on DADT and ENDA].”
ENDA, a top priority of the LGBT movement for decades, would put in place a federal ban on discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It remains unclear whether Senate Democratic leaders have the votes to pass a companion bill. For more information about the legislation, go here.