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The Senate Thursday accomplished something that rarely happens in Washington nowadays — it passed bipartisan legislation to help end discrimination against gays and trans-gender Americans in the workplace.
Amazingly, 10 Republicans joined Senate Democrats to pass the bill.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the bill now heads for the House of Representatives where homophobes and bigots rule and head gay basher John Boehner, Speaker of the House, claims he won’t even bring the legislation up to a vote.
Such is life in America’s flawed — and failed — system of government. In a week when voters told the rabid right-wing of the GOP and the tea party that controls it to, effectively, “go to hell,” the bigotry and regressive leadership of the House of Representatives reasserts itself to stop progressive moves to better the society we live in.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, better known as the ENDA, is a simple piece of legislation that tells employers of 15 or more workers that they cannot use sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis for firing employees or denying them raises or other considerations.
Here at Capitol Hill Blue, some of our writers and editors are gay. Their sexual orientation is not an issue for being here. Never has been. Never will.
Religious groups and the military are exempted from the bill. The Pentagon is barred from banning gays from military service already from Congressional action three years ago, which leaves religion and churches free to continue to pound the Bible and claim homosexuality is a sin.
That’s not enough, however, for the bigots who control the Republican party that also controls the House of Representatives. They claim the ENDA is “anti-family” and would leave to “frivolous lawsuits” against businesses that continue to follow GOP-endorsed homophobia.
Boehner needs to sober up and realize it is his job to serve the people and not the homomphobes and bigots of the Republican Party. He did so earlier this year when he allowed a vote on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, even though House Republicans opposed it because of new protections for gays and lesbians.
If the House doesn’t act, gay activist groups want President Barack Obama to to sign an executive order forcing compliance with the ENDA on federal agencies and employers with federal contracts — an action that would affect about 20 percent of the nation’s workforce.
“We call on President Obama to send a clear message in support of workplace fairness by signing this executive order,” says Chad Griffen, President of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group.
Signing such an order, however, would require Obama to do something he seldom does — actually keep a promise he made while running for President back in 2008. He claimed to support such an executive order as a candidate but has failed to actually sign one as President. It’s not the first campaign promise he broke and probably won’t be the last.
“It is imperative for President Obama to lead by example,” say a statement by the gay rights group GetEQUAL.
Lead by example. That’s a tall order in Washington and something we seldom see from the President or Congress.’
We saw a hint of it from the Senate this week.
It would be sad if that brief moment of sanity dies from a lack of action in either the House or Representatives or the White House.
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