ENDA: promises vs. political homophobia

We’ve been made a lot of promises by politicians. We’ve been given a lot of timelines. What we’re hearing lately makes it seem less and less likely that the House will even take a vote on ENDA this year.

Let’s review:

First, we heard ENDA would be done last fall:

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has been introduced in the House and the Senate and Rep. Barney Frank thinks the all-inclusive bill could get a committee hearing this month and a vote on the House floor this fall.

Then we heard there would be action on ENDA in January or February:

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a gay lawmaker who serves on the House Education & Labor Committee, said he’s expecting a markup of the legislation either this month or in February and a floor vote soon after.

“Once it’s been marked up in committee, it’s simply a matter of scheduling it for the floor, and that of course depends on what else is coming to the floor, whether it’s health care or what[ever] it is, but it shouldn’t take very long,” he said.

Also expecting an ENDA markup in the House shortly is Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign.

“We’re hopeful that it will be either January or February and we’re pushing for that,” she said.

Then we heard it would be done in April.

KO: Where are we on ENDA?

JP: We have the votes to pass ENDA in the House and we hope to bring it before the committee I serve on – the Education Labor Committee – within the month – by the end of April. And then, once it passes the committee, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks – a week or two – to schedule it for the floor. It’s just a scheduling matter.

Then, last month, on April 18th, Barney Frank said the vote would be happening within weeks:

Frank, speaking to Metro Weekly after his appearance at the Victory Fund’s annual Champagne Brunch, said the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – currently in the House Education and Labor Committee – has been ”promised” a quick vote in the full House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) once the bill leaves committee.

Noting that he’s been speaking to Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) ”constantly,” Frank said of the ENDA mark-up, ”It will be this week or next week.”

Today, via Kerry Eleveld, we learn that there is no time frame for a vote:

A spokesman for Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts said that Speaker Pelosi still plans to take a vote on ENDA this session but declined to discuss the timing of the vote.

“The congressman said today that the speaker is committed to moving ENDA,” said Harry Gural.

So, it’s May 14, 2010 and there’s no indication that we’ll be having a vote on ENDA. There are, however, many indications that many House Democrats do not want to take any more votes on issues deemed hard or controversial. As noted in the post below, that talk started last December. We saw more evidence yesterday in The Hill and Washington Post. The Post article quoted one of the leading Blue Dogs in the House, Heath Shuler, saying he didn’t want a vote on ENDA this year. If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that Blue Dogs carry far too much sway in the Democratic Party. Also, in case you have any illusions to the contrary, let’s be clear: On Capitol Hill, LGBT = Controversial.

Now, we’re not controversial during the campaign season when candidates want our money and our votes. Lots of them sure come to AMERICAblog for help. But, once they’re in office, political homophobia takes over. Here’s how I defined political homophobia last June, in the wake of the DOMA brief debacle:

Political homophobes aren’t gay-hating in the traditional sense. In fact, publicly, most are strong supporters of LGBT equality. But, behind closed doors, many Democratic leaders, consultants, Hill staffers and the rest will vociferously argue that there is no political benefit to actually supporting LGBT rights. Political homophobia is rampant among some Democrats. In some ways, it’s worse than blatant homophobia, since we think most Democrats are on our side. And outwardly, they are.

Political homophobia dictates policy in DC more than we’d like to think.

It really feels like political homophobia is dictating policy now — at the White House and on Capitol Hill.


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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