Committee Dems united on federal gay protections bill

Tue. November 17, 2009 12:00 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Washington, D.C. - House Democrats on the Education & Labor Committee appear to be united in favor of passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would outlaw employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The committee has scheduled a November 18 final markup of the legislation where members will decide whether the bill reaches the House floor for a final vote this session.

Democrats control the committee with 30 members, while Republicans remain in the minority with 19.

All but three Democratic members are co-sponsors of the legislation. Those three members also appear likely to vote in favor of the legislation introduced in June by openly gay Representative Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts. Nevada's Dina Titus along with Jason Altmire from Pennsylvania and Marcia Fudge from Ohio previously voted in favor of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first major federal gay rights bill signed into law last month by President Obama. The legislation expands the definition of federal hate crimes to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Two House floor non-voting representatives – Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan of the Northern Mariana Islands – also sit on the committee. Both representatives have also signed on as co-sponsors of ENDA.

At least four Republicans support the bill.

Pennsylvania's Todd Russell Platts along with Judy Biggert of Illinois and Michael Castle from Delaware are co-sponsors of the legislation. While Louisiana Representative Bill Cassidy appears likely to support the bill after voting in favor of the Hate Crimes bill.

The Democratic solidarity nearly guarantees the committee will approve the bill. Support in the House, where the measure was approved in 2007 before it fizzled out in the Senate, also appears robust.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine