Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Gay-only ENDA to advance


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-San Francisco) office issued a statement late Friday afternoon (October 12) saying the House Committee on Education and Labor would proceed with consideration of a sexual orientation-only version of ENDA next week, with a floor vote on the measure expected the following week.

The news came as word spread that members of Pelosi's senior staff met with representatives of a 284-member coalition of LGBT groups that has expressed vigorous opposition to the consideration of any form of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that does not include a prohibition on gender identity discrimination. According to those groups, dropping gender identity from the bill both leaves transgender people unprotected and seriously diminishes protections for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people in the workplace.

"It's inexplicable, it's just inexplicable," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality about news that Pelosi would send the sexual orientation-only bill for a vote next week.

Although the statement from Pelosi's office provided few insights to the meeting or the speaker's thinking behind moving ahead despite such strong opposition to the version that will be voted on next week, her remarks to a gay newspaper in Washington, D.C., suggests she believes an "all or nothing" strategy is unworkable.

"If we went into Congress saying 'all or nothing on all of our bills,' we might as well just go home, because it doesn't always happen all at once," Pelosi said in an interview with the Washington Blade published Friday.

Pelosi had told the Bay Area Reporter earlier this week that she remained undecided on moving forward with an inclusive ENDA. While the outcry from LGBT organizations pushing for an inclusive ENDA has been immense, the speaker also said she has received just as loud a message to "do something" regarding a workplace discrimination bill.

Brad Luna, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said his group "got an agreement" from the speaker to put HR 3686 – a version with gender identity only – up for a vote as soon as the LGBT coalition signals that it has the votes to pass that legislation.

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