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There was a time when fifty-one votes meant that all but the worst legislation could pass the Senate. In fact, there was a time when fifty-one votes meant that even the worst legislation could pass the Senate. Unfortunately, that day is passed. Still, in a rather nice move, Senator Tom Caper (D-Del) became the fifty-first cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Another ten and it has a filibuster majority.
Carper’s spokesman Ian Sams stated “Senator Carper believes it is important for federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — in the same way that current law addresses race, sex or religion — in order to ensure that all Americans are protected equally under the law.”
ENDA is intended to prevent job discrimination based on someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity/presentation. Sams noted that “There’s nothing significant about the timing of his cosponsorship since he’s cosponsored the bill before, but he’s pleased to be the 51st senator to sign on in this Congress, as it means a majority of senators stand ready to pass this important legislation.”
As said, another ten and it will actually pass the Senate as it is unlikely that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will be willing to allow this particular piece of legislation through owning to his being owned by the Christian Right.
Currently, Senators Susan Collins and Mark Kirk are the only Republicans to sign on to ENDA, and Senators Tim Johnson, Joe Manchin, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor and Jay Rockefeller are the Democrats who have not.
Various versions of the bill have been kicking around Congress for over a decade. The last time it got a vote was in November 2007 when it passed the House 235 to 184.
It is expected that ENDA will go into markup a little after the 4 July recess.
Many LGBT activists have been angry and frustrated with President Barack Obama’s apparent refusal to issue an executive order that would bar discrimination by federal contractors, but their anger is misplaced as that order was signed into action back in 1998, and has never been rescinded.
It is unlikely that House Speaker John Boehner will allow a vote on the bill.