Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revealed why he has been such a strong support of LGBT rights, including the ban on workplace discrimination known as the Employee Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA. The reason being that his niece is a lesbian.
In fact, he stated in an interview with reporters that “My niece is a lesbian. She’s a school teacher. Her employment shouldn’t be affected with that. We should have a law that says that, not just the good graces of wherever you work.”
Senator Reid’s niece has declined to be interviewed, and her name has not been made public. She is, though, willing to have her orientation made public. Reid recalled meeting the head of the Human Rights Campaign back in the 1990′s and being encouraged to get behind ENDA.
Reid said that “He said to me, ‘You’re a moderate guy. If you came out for ENDA, we could pick up a lot more votes.’ I said he’s probably right. So I agreed to cosponsor that, and as a result, we were able to put that on the floor. It failed by one vote, basically.”
The bill has been repeatedly introduced into Congress, but has gotten little than a few hearings. ENDA has been reintroduced in this Congress by Representatives Jared Polis of Colorado and Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Reid feels it has a chance to be brought up for a vote soon, but wonders why it doesn’t have broad support to pass noting “It’s hard to comprehend that we haven’t done a better job.”
ENDA may not have much of a chance in the House of Representatives. Republicans have been strongly opposed to any attempts to offer support for LGBT rights despite the fact that the majority of the American population supports workplace protections for LGBT Americans.