By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com March 14 2014 2:32 PM ET
In their push to finally get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through Congress, LGBT activists are getting some help from wealthy Republican donors and former GOP officeholders.
Although the bill has mostly Democratic support, the Republicans getting behind it are aiming to make workplace equality a bipartisan cause. Republican billionaires Paul Singer and Seth Klarman have each donated $375,000 to Americans for Workplace Opportunity, a project of the Human Rights Campaign aimed at securing passage of ENDA, USA Today reports.
“America is a place where the freedom to be who you are shouldn’t be a barrier to your ability to get a job and provide for your family,” said Singer, according to USA Today. “In the workplace, employees should be judged on their merit and hard work and not on aspects that are irrelevant to their performance.”
HRC is putting an additional $1.3 million into the campaign, which will send organizers to the districts of 48 Republican House members deemed potential ENDA supporters. Currently ENDA, which was approved by the Senate in November, has 199 House cosponsors, and all but six are Democrats. House Speaker John Boehner was said he will not bring ENDA to a vote this session, but he may have to reconsider if at least 218 members — a majority — endorse the bill.
Former Republican officeholders calling on their party to support ENDA include Deborah Pryce and Tom Reynolds, who were in the House, and Norm Coleman, a former U.S. senator. “Leadership needs to hear from America,” Pryce told USA Today. “They need to hear from their own members, and they need to hear from the constituencies that support it. I think it can be a good Republican issue. We just have to help (lawmakers) increase their comfort level with it and there’s plenty of time to do that, slowly, methodically, district by district.”