Friday, November 01, 2013

Voting on ENDA

By Mustang Bobby

According to Greg Sargent, the Senate is one vote short of having a filibuster-proof majority to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which will prevent people from being fired for being LGBT.
Can it secure the 60 votes it needs to break a GOP filibuster? Right now, one of the last remaining obstacles to passage may be an argument over “religious liberty.”

Here’s the situation. ENDA has 59 votes right now — the 55 Dems (including Cory Booker), Republicans Susan Collins and Mark Kirk, who co-sponsored the bill, and Orrin Hatch and Lisa Murkowski, who voted for it in committee. Gay rights advocates and Dems — led by Jeff Merkley — are aggressively lobbying four more Republicans: Rob Portman, Kelly Ayotte, Dean Heller, and Pat Toomey.

Conversations are ongoing with all of them, though Portman seems to be the most engaged, a source familiar with discussions says. If Portman comes on board, it’s possible or even likely (though hardly certain) that the remaining three Republicans will come along too — and proponents are hoping to get well over 60 votes, possibly as high as 65.

Here’s where “religious liberty” comes in. One of the last concerns Portman has is ENDA’s “religious liberty” protections. The bill has an exemption for religious organizations, but employers cannot cite religious reasons for hiring decisions. Portman told the Ohio press he’s still struggling with this piece of the puzzle.

With all due respect to those who have religious liberty issues about hiring people whose existence offends their faith and practice, it seems that they’re not all that concerned about the religious liberties of those of us whose faith and practice finds theirs offensive.

Explain to me how and why someone’s sexual orientation is relevant to the best practices of running a business.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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