Amendment to restore protections for transgenders lacks votes; sexual-orientation-only version not on schedule for this week
An amendment that would restore transgender protections to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act reportedly lacks the votes it would need to move forward in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Hill newspaper reported Thursday, Oct. 25 that House Education and Labor committee Chairman George Miller told freshman lawmakers during a breakfast last week that the amendment would not be introduced on the House floor because it does not have enough votes to pass. The committee forwarded a version of ENDA that prohibits discrimination based only on sexual orientation to the full House on Oct. 18.
Citing two unidentified sources who attended the breakfast, The Hill reported that Miller told the freshmen he realized that voting in favor of the amendment could expose them to political attacks heading into a re-election year.
The sexual-orientation-only version of ENDA also was not in the Weekly Leader, a schedule of bills to be considered by the House for the week released Monday, Oct. 29.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, posted a message on the organization’s Web site Tuesday, Oct. 30 lamenting the situation.
“There hasn’t been much in the way of news to report,” Keisling wrote. “We are beginning the sixth week of this ENDA situation or crisis or opportunity. And we are basically where we were at the beginning our best allies in Congress with strong support from [the Human Rights Campaign] still seem determined to jam a civil rights bill through the House of Representatives that virtually every LGBT organization, including HRC, says they do not want.”
House Democratic leaders removed trans protections from ENDA in late September because they said it otherwise would not have enough votes to pass. More than 300 LGBT lobbying groups objected, and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., announced she would introduce the amendment. Keisling suggested it is possible Baldwin will introduce the amendment, then withdraw it prior to a vote.
“On the one hand, having Tammy Baldwin and other supporters speak about the need for gender identity protections would be helpful in concept; on the other hand, it would unlikely be sufficiently helpful to undo the damage caused by passing the divisive bill minutes later.”
Keisling said the only victory to be found is the solidarity that’s been achieved over the last several weeks within the LGBT community.
“Hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals have spoken strongly and clearly about the need for us to stick together to have the best chance of winning protections for all of us. That is a huge win,” she said.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 2, 2007