Why Are These Congressmen Still So Leery of Cosponsoring ENDA?
BY Sunnivie Brydum and Michelle Garcia
July 03 2014 12:39 AM ET
Though Reichert's home state of Washington grants the right to marry to same-sex couples, and the state has its own LGBT workplace protection policy, Reichart still has not voiced his support for this current version of ENDA. He did vote for the bill in 2007, as well as "don't ask, don't tell" repeal, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and the 2013 Violence Against Women Act.
In 2013 he said he had not figured out what he would do for ENDA yet, but he wanted to "do what's best for America" when it comes to banning discrimination against LGBT workers, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
“I’ve always been supportive of nondiscrimination in the workplace,” he told the P-I. “And that’s the way it should be in America. People need to be treated fairly, without bullying, and evaluated on how they do their jobs.”
While Reichert said shortly after the U.S. Senate approved ENDA in November 2013 that he would head back to Washington to review the bill, his office has not informed with The Advocate whether he will sponsor this bill before this session ends.
“Congressman Reichart was one of 35 Republicans to vote for ENDA in 2007, so we’re hopeful he will support LGBT workplace protections once again," Berle says. "He has consistently voted in favor of pro-equality legislation since then, supporting the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' in 2010 and for the LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act last year. As a Republican congressman from a blue state that long ago passed LGBT workplace protections in the state legislature, Reichert would be doing the politically wise thing by cosponsoring ENDA — and of course it’s also the right thing to do.”
Rep. Pat Tiberi's district in Ohio is just outside of the LGBT-friendly Columbus, which has already passed its own LGBT workplace protections. However, Tiberi, a confidant of fellow Ohioan and ENDA-averse Speaker John Boehner, seems to have hang-ups about providing protections for transgender workers. He voted for the version of ENDA that did not include protections for transgender people and has signaled that he opposes federal job protections to transgender workers.
“Representative Tiberi voted for ENDA in 2007, and now we’re urging him to take the next step by cosponsoring this critically important LGBT legislation," Berle says. "Speaker John Boehner represents a nearby congressional district in Ohio, and Tiberi's ENDA support and cosponsorship would send a strong message to the Speaker about the future of the Republican party.”
Freedom to Work also points out that Sen. Rob Portman, a fellow Republican from Ohio, suffered no political repercussions when he voted for the fully inclusive ENDA that passed the Senate in November.
Like Tiberi, Rep. David Joyce represents Ohio, the home of Sen. Rob Portman, who voted for a fully inclusive ENDA in November. His district, located in the suburbs of Cleveland, currently has a local workplace protection policy for LGBT people.
“Representative Joyce is one of the newer members of Congress, and he took his first pro-LGBT vote last year, backing the LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act," Berle says. "We’re urging Joyce to look to the good example set by Ohio’s Republican senator, Rob Portman, who voted for a fully inclusive ENDA last year. If enough Ohio voters contact Congressman Joyce through email, social media, and phone, we are hopeful he'll become an ENDA cosponsor.”
Late last month, a group of LGBT constituents met with Joyce's staff, at which time it was revealed that the first-term congressman is indeed interested in supporting ENDA, whether it's in the form of a vote or a cosponsorship. His office did not, however, return multiple calls for comment from The Advocate on the legislation.