Breaking the GOP filibuster on ENDA

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

There is a conflict in the whip counts being done by the media counting votes to break the GOP filibuster on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the Senate — 60 votes are needed for cloture.

Steve Benen accurately reports that when Cory Booker from New Jersey is sworn in on Thursday, all 55 Democratic senators are committed to ending the GOP filibuster. Senate Dems now unanimous on ENDA:

Once Sen.-elect Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is sworn in tomorrow, there
will be 55 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, and all 55 now
support ENDA. To defeat a filibuster and overcome GOP obstructionism,
proponents will need just five votes from Republican senators.

And by my count, they have them. As of Monday, ENDA had four Republican backers – Collins, Kirk, Murkowski, and Hatch – and that was before Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who supports marriage equality and
has an openly gay son, said he’s inclined to vote for ENDA, too.

So, 4 +1 = 5. And 5 + 55 = 60.

Not so fast. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is a bit of a "squish" according to the whip count by Laura Clawson at Daily Kos. ENDA just one vote shy of a filibuster-proof margin in the Senate:

So what's the road to 60, if there is one?

First up is Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who told reporters
Tuesday that he’s “inclined to back” the proposal. A spokesman later
clarified that Portman “agrees with the underlying principle” of the
measure, but is seeking changes to address concerns with the bill’s
religious liberties provisions. […]

But [Arizona Sen. Jeff] Flake said a statement late Tuesday that even
though he supported a 2007 version of the measure, the new Senate
version “includes new provisions that will increase the potential for
litigation and compliance costs, especially for small businesses. For
that reason, I oppose the Senate bill.”

There aren't too many people who've taken steps backward on gay
rights since 2007, so Flake is at least making himself stand out, I
guess?
Meanwhile, Portman's religious liberties concerns look a lot like
an excuse to give himself wiggle room, since ENDA has serious religious exemptions already:

  • A complete exemption for houses of worship, parochial and similar religious schools, and missions
  • A codification of the so-called “ministerial exemption” recognized
    by many federal courts, exempting positions at religious organizations
    that involve the teaching or spreading religion, religious governance,
    or the supervision of individuals engaged in these activities
  • A provision allowing religious organizations, for classes of jobs,
    to require employees and applicants to conform to a declared set of
    significant religious tenets, including ones which would bar LGBT people
    from holding the position

Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey, New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, and Nevada's
Dean Heller—Republicans who've supported some LGBT-friendly policies in
the past—are all still thinking it over.

Sen. Jeff "Flake" is living up to his name. So what about Arizona's angry old man, Sen. John McCain? This dinosaur says it will be like busing and might lead to reverse discrimination. No really, he actually said this. John McCain Worried ENDA Will Be Like 'Busing,' Lead To 'Reverse Discrimination':

Even though his wife is petitioning him to back the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has not yet decided
how he will vote, saying he is concerned the landmark civil rights
legislation could result in "reverse discrimination."

* * *

When asked what lingering concerns he had about backing ENDA, McCain
replied, "Whether it imposes quotas, whether it has reverse
discrimination, whether it has the kinds of provisions that really
preserve equal rights for all citizens or, like for example, busing.
Busing was done in the name of equality. Busing was a failure. Quotas
were a failure. A lot of people thought they were solutions. They
weren't. They bred problems."

And the Sunday morning Bobbleheads want us to believe that this man is a "Very. Serious. Person." Bullshit. He is just an ignorant old man.

ENDA does not institute quotas, reverse discrimination or busing.
Federal law already makes it illegal to discriminate in hiring or
employment on the basis of race, color, sex, nationality, religion, age
or disability. ENDA would simply make sure that LGBT individuals aren't
singled out for special treatment.

"ENDA expressly prohibits quotas and the senator is mistaken on that
aspect of the law," said Tico Almeida, founder and president of Freedom
to Work, which is lobbying for ENDA. He said his group has already met
with McCain's office on the legislation and has a follow-up meeting
later this week, where they will emphasize the section of the law that
bans quotas.

From Section 4 of the legislation:

Sec4

ENDA also bars what McCain referred to as "reverse discrimination,"
by saying it's illegal to retaliate against someone who may oppose the
law:

Sec5

What's more, ENDA protects people of all sexual orientations from
discrimination. Therefore, a person cannot be fired for being
heterosexual either.

So it looks like you have no more excuses not to support ENDA, old man, unless you just want the ability to discriminate against gays for some sick reason.

Last week, McCain's wife, Cindy, signed a Human Rights Campaign postcard urging her husband to back ENDA. Can we trade Grampy McCrankypants for his more "evolved" wife, Cindy? I think most Arizonans would be more than happy with this trade.

And why has the Arizona political media been silent about ENDA? Where is the reporting on our two senators failing to support non-discrimination? Where are the editorial opinions urging our senators to support ENDA? This bill is coming up for a vote in November.

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