Barney Frank: House will vote on ENDA in March

by on January 14, 2010  •  In Congress, ENDA

According to an interview with the Advocate, Rep. Barney Frank is predicting that ENDA will go through mark-up in February and be on the House floor for a vote in March. Barney is close to the House leadership, so it's a safe bet that this means that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's promise that during 2010 she would not force Dems to vote on any controversial bills until after the Senate had voted on them will not apply to ENDA.  Which is a good thing, since ENDA's fate in the Senate is a huge question mark.

What's holding up ENDA?  As I wrote last month, resistance to some aspects of trans inclusion is, not surprisingly, coming from conservative Dems.  According to Barney:
“There continue to be concerns on the part of many members about the transgender issue, particularly about the question of places where people are without their clothes — showers, bathrooms, locker rooms, etc. We still have this issue about what happens when people who present themselves as one sex but have the physical characteristics of the other sex, what rules govern what happens in locker rooms, showers, etc.” Well, that quote isn't up to Barney's usual standard of verbal acuity, but whatever. Developing language to secure these votes, plus revising sections to insure that ENDA is consistent with Title VII, is what advocates are working on now.

Meanwhile, conservatives are opening another attack on ENDA, arguing that it is a stepping stone to same-sex marriage.  A briefing paper from the Heritage Foundation concludes:

Even if courts redefining marriage do not, in a strict sense, construe nondiscrimination laws as creating, allowing, or authorizing same-sex marriage, one cannot deny the effect that nondiscrimination laws and other gay-rights policies might very well have on marriage cases. … [S]ome courts might cite nondiscrimination laws and other gay-rights legislation as evidence that society has abandoned certain precepts undergirding a policy of defining marriage as the union of husband and wife or as evidence that society has embraced an evolving public policy of protecting homosexuality, either of which could make it more difficult for state officials to defend marriage…

"Certain precepts undergirding a policy of defining marriage as the union of husband and wife" – whatever could that mean?


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