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ENDA down for the count | Hunter of Justice

ENDA down for the count

by on September 16, 2010  •  In Congress, ENDA

The Hill reports the obvious: it's all but over for ENDA in this session of Congress, except for a hail mary lame duck strategy. Unfortunately every Dem-affiliated interest group in DC has a long and lengthening list of goals for which not much hope is left except for a HMLD strategy.

Amazingly, everyone agrees on who's at fault with ENDA: the other guy.

Gay-rights activists say they are resigned to the fact that the House will not vote before the midterm elections — and perhaps not this year — on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill adding workplace protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

With Democrats bracing for big GOP gains in November, the legislation could be dead for the foreseeable future if it isn’t passed this Congress.

“I am not too optimistic,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “It was never a top priority [for Democratic leaders], and we ran out of time.”

Keisling blamed the media for elevating the issue of gays in the military over ENDA. She said she doesn’t question the importance of ending “Don’t ask” but noted “ENDA has always been the community’s No. 1 legislative priority.”

ENDA has been a cause for the gay community for years, but it has taken a backseat to the push to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military…

 “Speaker Pelosi made a commitment to our community that this would come up for a vote during this session of Congress,” said Fred Sainz, chief spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign. “A commitment has been made, and we expect that commitment to be fulfilled.”

Advocates are turning their attention to the lame-duck session of Congress, when they have been told there is a chance ENDA could be brought to the floor…

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) — the chief architect of ENDA — said he is working on bringing the bill up during the lame-duck session but did not know if it would happen. He placed part of the blame for ENDA’s delay on gay activists.

 “They haven’t been doing a good enough job of lobbying their members,” Frank said.“People have demonstrations. They don’t lobby their members. I want all of the groups that I agree with to be like the NRA," Frank said…

The House in 2007 passed a version of ENDA that included protections for sexual orientation but not gender identity. That bill gained 35 Republican votes, but the addition of the protection for transgendered people has scared off some centrist Democrats and Republicans wary of wading into a sensitive social issue in an election year…

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