The Washington Blade reports that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is about to sign on to the 2013 version of ENDA. That means the bill has more sponsors than the 2001 version of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act; it held the previous record for the most sponsors of any LGBT bill.
In my opinion, sitting down here in NC, a state without any employment protections for LGBTs and marriage not even anywhere on the horizon (barring an unexpected blanket SCOTUS ruling), the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has always been a top priority on the list of basic civil rights we need now. The public supports eliminating this discrimination by overwhelming margins, but on the Hill it’s been like pulling teeth to get action.
Rockefeller’s co-sponsorship of ENDA is also noteworthy because West Virginia lacks any statewide LGBT employment non-discrimination protections. The other senator from the state, Sen. Joe Manchin (D), has yet to indicate whether he supports ENDA.
While the legislation has more than majority support in the days after President Obama called for passage of ENDA during the White House Pride reception, it’s still short of the 60 votes necessary. Four Democrats are still not ENDA co-sponsors: Manchin, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.).
Meanwhile, it only takes a stroke of the pen by the President on an executive order to protect protecting LGBT federal contract workers. Every signal from the White House has been that Barack Obama, who could profoundly affect these workers around the country right now (only a subsequent President could undo the order), is content to keep the pen in the desk and let Congress address ENDA.
Graphic from Freedom To Work.