House Passes ENDA

The House has just passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), H.R. 3685, by a vote of 235-184. Watch highlights of the afternoon’s debate >>

Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke in favor of the bill shortly before passage:

Speaker Pelosi: “This is truly an historic day… As someone who has looked forward to this day for the 20 years that I have served in Congress, it is a joyous occasion. It simply would not have been possible without the outstanding leadership and courage of Chairman Barney Frank and of Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. Anyone who cares about a country without discrimination is deeply in debt to Tammy Baldwin and to Barney Frank for their leadership in this regard… History teaches us that progress on Civil Rights is never easy. It is often marked by small and difficult steps. We may take this step today toward the ideal of equality that is both our heritage and our hope.”

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI-02) explained why she introduced, and then withdrew her amendment adding inclusion for the transgendered community:

Rep. Baldwin: “But while I believe that a roll call vote on this amendment would demonstrate strong support for an inclusive ENDA, I believe that it will fall short of adoption. People have asked why I pressed for and insisted upon bringing an amendment to the floor and maintaining the option to withdraw it without a vote. The reason is simple. I believe that those who will be left behind by this bill deserve to hear on this House floor that you are not forgotten, and our job will not be finished until you, too, share fully in the American dream. So at the moment at which the closing arguments are made, I will withdraw this amendment. With a commitment to my colleagues and all Americans committed to equality of opportunity, and ending discrimination, that I will do everything within my power to make this measure whole again.”

Rep. Barney Frank (MA-04) denounces the motion to recommit from the Republicans, which contains redundant language on marriage but would intentionally kill the bill by delay:

Rep. Frank: “I want to address the motion to delay. Mr. Speaker, we say here that we don’t take things personally, and usually that’s true. Members, Mr. Speaker, will have to forgive me — I take it personally. 35 years ago, I filed a bill that tried to get rid of discrimination based on sexual orientation. As we sit here today, there are millions of Americans in states where this is not the law. By the way, 19 states have such a law. In no case has it led to that decision. The Massachusetts law passed in 1989, that did not lead to the decision in 2004, unrelated. But here’s the deal: I used to be someone subject to this prejudice. And through luck, circumstance, I got to be a big shot. I’m now above that prejudice. But I feel an obligation, to 15-year-olds dreading to go to school because of the torments, to people they’ll lose their job in a gas station if someone finds out who they love. I feel an obligation to use the status I have been lucky enough to get, to help them. And I want to ask my colleagues here, Mr. Speaker, on a personal basis, please don’t fall for this sham. Don’t send me out of here having failed to help those people.”
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