Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What Will It Take?

While it was no longer a surprise last night, it was nonetheless heartening. ENDA was finally guaranteed passage last night in a successful cloture vote. Despite several absences, ENDA cleared its greatest hurdle yet with solid bipartisan support.

The Senate just voted 61-30 to allow for debate on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would make it illegal nationwide for employers to discriminate against LGBT people. It had the support of all Senate Democrats as well as several Republican Senators, including cosponsors Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), as well as Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dean Heller (R-NV).

Surprise “aye” votes from Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) helped advance the bill over the finish line in the absence of expected votes from Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

So Senator Dean Heller (R) ultimately delivered his vote. And Senator Harry Reid (D) is delivering on his promise to secure ENDA's passage in the Senate.

The Senate will likely soon finish its work on ENDA. And then, what? That's a good question. Unfortunately for everyone, House Speaker John Boehner (R-DayGlo) didn't provide a good answer yesterday.

Preventing employers from firing workers simply because they are gay would “increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs,” according to a spokesperson for Speaker John Boehner. But never fear, such a law would also do absolutely nothing because “existing law” already prohibits employers from firing LGBT workers, according to an aide to Speaker Boehner.

Confused? The Speaker of the House sure appears to be. Clearly, it cannot both be the case that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which bans anti-gay discrimination in the workplace, is both a fount of costly litigation and an irrelevancy that will do nothing at all.

Unfortunately, Boehner’s office’s claim that it’s already illegal to fire gay people is a common misconception — a recent poll found that 69 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that a law like ENDA is already in place. In reality, there is no law protecting gay, lesbian and bisexual workers from being fired in 29 states, and transgender workers are unprotected in 33 states.

While Nevada has a state level ENDA, next door neighbors Arizona and Utah do not. And clearly, it doesn't stop there.

So why can't Congress pass a nationwide ENDA already? The Senate is actually doing it, but the House may not do so regardless of the Senate's final tally. Why is that?

As usual, the answer lies with the 21st Century Know Nothings. Or more specifically, G-O-TEA politicians feel compelled to continue "The Culture War" to stay in their good graces. They truly do fear "TEA" powered primary challenges more than anything else... Even the long term viability of their own party.

Is this sounding familiar yet? It should. This is why Nevada Republicans have fallen into a new crisis over Jim Wheeler. This is why House Republican "leaders" have also halted progress on comprehensive immigration reform. And this is why the same (above mentioned) "leaders" can't even succeed in the most basic tasks of governance.

This is the problem. Republicans are plagued by their own infighting. And their base is afraid of 21st Century America. What will it take for the Republican Party to acknowledge reality and stop fearing the future? What will it take for the Republican Party to stop holding back the rest of the nation over its own internal angst?

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