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Gay City News: ENDA Heading to Floor This Week

Things are in motion

Gay City News has confirmed that the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, delayed for the past month due to debate over whether or not the gay rights measure should include protections against bias motivated by an individual's gender identity or expression, will go before the House Rules Committee at 5 p.m. on Monday, November 5.

According to Steve Adamske, a spokesman for out gay Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, ENDA's lead sponsor, the Committee will take up the measure in the form it was scaled back to in late September, at Frank's recommendation, to include only sexual orientation – and not gender identity and expression – as a protected class.

Consideration of the bill by Rules signals leadership's conclusion that it has the votes to win passage on the floor, in spite of the potential for defection by an unknown number of Democrats insisting that only an ENDA that includes protections for gender identity and expression be moved.

Floor action on ENDA could come as early as Tuesday, but is clearly expected some day this week.  

And Tammy Baldwin's amendment to restore the “T” protections — the scuttlebutt is that it will be withdrawn.

Baldwin has apparently made limited headway in wooing colleagues to support the inclusion of transgender protections, and ironically her measure, if put to a vote, would create precisely the framework that Frank warned against when he advised a narrower formulation of the bill. His fear was that Republicans would put up a mirror-image amendment to Baldwin's, stripping out transgender protections.

…Given the risk that Baldwin's amendment might fall well short of a majority, the assumption among activists is that she will withdraw it if a decent show of votes cannot be achieved. A well-placed Democratic congressional aide told Gay City News last week that the amendment would be debated on the floor, but then withdrawn by Baldwin prior to a vote.


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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding