Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner reports that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) is planning to re-introduce the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) this week, even as he acknowledges that the bill won’t be considered in the Republican-led House of Representatives. “It’s an organizing tool,” Frank told Geidner, explaining that introducing the bill will help build more support for the issue.
Last year, the measure—which would prohibit public and private employers from using an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for employment decisions–never even received a hearing before the House Education and Labor Committee, but Frank told Geidner that ENDA stands a better chance of eventually passing a Democrat-controlled Congress than the recently introduced legislation to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act:
MW: What about those who are concerned that DOMA repeal efforts will overtake ENDA passage efforts?
FRANK: I’d say that you seem to want to ask contradictory questions. We’re not focusing on DOMA. DOMA is being done – did you hear what I just said? – DOMA is being done in the courts. We’re not doing it legislatively.
MW: But you were at the Respect for Marriage Act introduction two weeks ago.
FRANK: The energy is going to be – the chances of passage are greater on ENDA than on DOMA [...]
ENDA will pass before DOMA will be repealed congressionally. I believe that, with regard to DOMA, the goal is to win it in court. I do not think there is a good likelihood of getting DOMA repealed through the Congress. I think there is a good likelihood, in a Democratic Congress, of getting an inclusive ENDA. The number of folks we have to shift to get ENDA passed with transgender inclusion is smaller than the number of votes we have to shift to get DOMA repealed. And I have consistently said that all along.
The GOP’s refusal to consider the bill is still somewhat surprising, given the party’s efforts to run on a “jobs” platform during the 2010 midterm elections and its constant attacks against Democrats for failing to create enough jobs. “Make no mistake, we are coming to Washington to rein in the deficit, to tear down barriers to job creation and to reform a government that has grown out of touch with the governed,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wrote in an op-ed shortly after the election. Unfortunately, that pledge does not appear to extend to LGBT Americans who have been fired because of discrimination.
Last year’s ENDA legislation had 45 Senate cosponsors and 199 House cosponsors. Asked about the Democrats’ failure to pass the bill in early January — despite a majority in both chambers of Congress — then Press Secretary Robert Gibbs promised that the White House would “certainly work to make progress on those fronts in obviously a much more challenging Congress.”