Harry Reid commits to passing ENDA out of Senate. Will work on DADT repeal.

Last weekend, after attending Senator Kennedy’s funeral, Majority Leader Harry Reid returned to Las Vegas where he poke at HRC’s dinner. His remarks gave some hope for progress in the Senate on LGBT issues. As we first reported here last month, Reid is a strong supporter the Senate ENDA bill, S. 1584, which currently has 38 sponsors. (According to Reid’s office, he’s not a cosponsor because, as Majority Leader, he usually don’t sponsor legislation.) In July, Reid also stated that he wants to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Reid addressed almost all of the key LGBT issues in his speech. A full version of the remarks is after the break, but this excerpt is key:

I am proud that we have acted in the name of Matthew Shepard, whose name has for 10 years been associated with hate crimes. Because of your efforts, your hard work and your leadership in helping make this bill become a law, Matthew Shepard’s name will now be associated with justice.

I am also proud that Nevada has passed a domestic partnership law, which is another major step forward toward ensuring every citizen of this state can know equality.

But we have more such steps to take.

The Senate will soon outlaw discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote anyone simply based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and I am committed to passing it out of the Senate and sending it to President Obama for his signature.

I also reiterate to you my pledge to work with Senator Gillibrand to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Permanently – once and for all.

A commitment for a vote on ENDA is key. The Senate hasn’t addressed that issue since 1996. The pledge on DADT helps — and we’re waiting for the Senate bill. Reid didn’t address the repeal of DOMA, but acknowledged his own state’s progress on recognizing same-sex relationships.

Here’s the full statement, as prepared for delivery:

Almost a year ago, our country demanded a new direction.

We rejected those who reject the value of diversity.

We refused to abide those who refuse justice.

We said we would no longer tolerate the intolerant.

And we knew that just as the challenges we face were not created in a day, they would not go away overnight. But we also knew we had no time to waste in getting to work.

There is no question that hard work is already beginning to pay off. So far this year20we have started to get Nevada and the nation back on track.

Among the most significant steps we took was passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill.

Earlier today I stood in Arlington National Cemetery, where the nation lay to rest a remarkable American. It was an experience I will never forget, as Senator Ted Kennedy joined his brothers John and Bobby for eternity, on that hill overlooking the nation’s capital.

There has been much talk in the days since his passing about how we can honor Senator Kennedy’s legacy by finally making it easier to afford to live a healthy life in America. It was the cause of his life, but it was far from his only concern.

Senator Kennedy for many years so courageously fought for hate crimes legislation. He correctly called hate crimes a form of domestic terrorism, and knew that it is our obligation to protect Americans from such terror.

I am gratified that we were able, with his great leadership, to do that while he was still with us.

I am proud that we said without equivocation and without fear that hate crimes embody a unique brand of evil. We recognized that hate crimes are rampant, that their numbers are rising, and that we can no longer leave the burden of prosecuting these terrible acts to small governments and small communities.

As you well know, this law will help bring justice to those who intentional ly choose their victims based on gender, sexual orientation or sexual identity, as well as many other qualities.

I am proud that we have acted in the name of Thomas Lahey, who was beaten unconscious in Las Vegas for being gay.

I am proud that we have acted in the name of Jammie Ingle, who was beaten and bludgeoned to death in Laughlin, Nevada, for the same reason.

And I am proud that we have acted in the name of Matthew Shepard, whose name has for 10 years been associated with hate crimes. Because of your efforts, your hard work and your leadership in helping make this bill become a law, Matthew Shepard’s name will now be associated with justice.

I am also proud that Nevada has passed a domestic partnership law, which is another major step forward toward ensuring every citizen of this state can know equality.

But we have more such steps to take.

The Senate will soon outlaw discrimination in the workplace by making it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote anyone simply based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and I am committed to passing it out of the Senate and sending it to President Obama for his signature.

I also reiterate to you my pledge to work with Senator Gillibrand to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Permanently – once and for all.

Our success so far would not be possible with your success. Your leadership and your support motivate us, inspire us and guide us.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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