The vote to bring the ENDA legislation to the senate floor for a debate and vote was 61-30, with seven Republicans joining 54 members of the Democratic caucus (Democrat Claire McCaskill was absent) to overcome the filibuster. The actual vote on the bill will take place on Monday and is sure to pass.
What I found interesting was that the Democrats are united on this issue and two of those Republicans who voted with them were Mormons with conservative records, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Dean Heller of Nevada. The other five were Mark Kirk of Illinois, Susan Collins of Maine, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania (a Tea Party favorite), and our own Rob Portman, who switched his views on LGBT issues when his son revealed himself to be gay. Portman is now getting quite a bit of flak from those in Ohio who feel he betrayed them.
Speaker John Boehner opposes the bill and can refuse to bring it up for a vote in the House of Representatives but may face a lot of pressure from some members of his party who worry that opposing equal rights for the LGBT community is really hurting them, especially with young voters. This would be especially true in the case of ENDA since even many people who oppose same-sex marriage don’t like the idea of employers discriminating against people just because they are gay.
Meanwhile the group Heritage Action, the group supporting the most extreme Tea Party wing of the party and urged the recent shut down and default movest, warns that support for ENDA will be seen as a black mark by them against those Republicans, since this is also supposedly an issue of ‘religious freedom’. And that old favorite, the bathroom argument, was thrown in for good measure.
“An employer would be negligent to ignore the concerns of female employees about having to share bathrooms with a biological male who says he identifies as female,” [Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan T.] Anderson wrote. “Failing to consider these repercussions raises a host of concerns about privacy rights.”
The thing that is hurting the Republican party is that they don’t seem to be able to pick their fights judiciously. Everything is seen as a fight to the death.