As the U.S. Senate nears a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — which would ban discrimination in the hiring and firing of employees on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in all 50 states — LEO Weekly asked Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes for her position on the bill. Like
almost every Democratic member of the Senate, and a few Republicans, she fully supports its passage:
“No Kentuckian deserves to be discriminated against in the workplace. I fully support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, because it ensures that everyone is treated fairly at work. My grandmothers always taught me to follow the Golden Rule and treat others as I would like to be treated. As Kentucky’s next Senator, I will be a strong voice for all Kentucky workers.”
The most current whip counts in the Senate shows that ENDA is extremely close to having 60 votes and breaking Sen. Mitch McConnell’s filibuster. Every Democratic senator besides Mark Pryor (AR), Bill Nelson (FL) and Joe Manchin (WV) is a co-sponsor of ENDA, and all three of them announced this week that they will vote for the bill. Republican senators Susan Collins (ME) and Mark Kirk (IL) are fellow co-sponsors, and a few of their Republican colleagues have strongly indicated that they could vote for it. McConnell has opposed the bill for years, so don’t hold your breath on him changing his mind and helping it break 60. And the House of Representatives… no, that will have to wait until 2015, at the earliest.
While Kentucky is mostly a socially conservative state, polling commissioned recently by the Fairness Campaign shows that 83 percent of Kentuckians favor legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations against someone based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Despite that polling, legislation in Frankfort for a statewide fairness law has gained little traction, due to near-universal opposition from Republican members, and a substantial amount of opposition from Democratic members who fear being perceived as liberal (or, they actually believe discrimination is OK, which is also quite possible).
With the chances of a statewide fairness ordinance passing in Kentucky any time soon being very low, it looks like Congress will have to act first, with the first available opportunity being early 2015 — if Democrats take enough seats in the House to make it a possibility. If Grimes is victorious in her campaign, she’ll be there to do her part to make sure ENDA passes in the Senate that year.