If you use the Google blog search on the federal legislation known as ENDA (Employment Non Discrimination Act), you'll see a fair amount of information, outrage and distortion of facts on all sides of the debate.
The truth is that there is a very real opportunity to pass federal legislation that would protect gay Americans in their jobs. It wouldn't matter if you live in Pittsburgh, Ross Township or Cranberry Township – you would be protected by the full force of federal law. This is big. Federal recognition of LGBT civil rights paves the way for greater economic opportunities for our entire community. It opens the door to more domestic partner benefits, more visibility in the workplace and more equality. Not full equality, but enough of it that its worth fighting to obtain.
Let me share with you information from trusted inside sources.
In the House of Representatives, the bill should move to a floor vote soon. Here's a link to a great spreadsheet that is kept updated on all things related to ENDA and the House. There are 221 Yes votes, 182 No votes and 27 unconfirmed votes. It is possible that an inclusive ENDA will pass in the House.
The Senate is a different matter. Here is that spreadsheet. Today, I was informed that there are 55 Yes votes and 9 possible Yes votes. That's very close and could make all the difference. That's an uphill battle.
Something to note. We are much closer to passing an inclusive ENDA now than ever before. The non-inclusive version (sometimes referred to as SPLENDA) wasn't acceptable and it didn't pass anyway.
Before I delve into what you can do to tip the scales towards equality, let me remind you of what our opponents will be pushing.
1. The bathroom argument. We heard this at the Steel City Stonewall Endorsement when a candidate for State House said he might support HB 300 except for some concerns. The fact that he didn't trouble himself to get educated by Frankel's team before coming to the endorsement suggests he thinks we are fools. That we believe there might be legitimate reasons to think cross-dressing men are going to invade women's bathrooms and dressing rooms across the nation en masse as soon as these bills would be signed. If someone can come to a gay endorsement meeting and not “get” this hysterical nonsense for the hysterical nonsense that it is, we have a lot of educating to do. Since he won the endorsement, we better do it soon.
And we need to be prepared for this tired, but effective tactic to be bandied about, especially when they want us to throw our transsisters and brothers under the bus to get a diluted SPLENDA passed so some of us get more equal.
2. Religious Liberty. ENDA does not mean faith communities have to make the slightest change to their institutions and practices, unless they receive federal funding. No anti-gay Baptist ministry is going to be forced to hire gay choir directors. This is another attempt to derail the conversation by pitting LGBT rights against religious rights. That's untrue. This is about ending discrimination against a class of people, not a restriction on another group's liberty. But it works. It scares people.
These people are bearing false witness. There is simply no evidence to back up these allegations. The HRC Corporate Equality Index shows 305 corporations that have adopted some measure of inclusion in their business practices and they seem to be doing fine.
So, how can you step up?
In the Senate, we are good. Both Casey and Specter are co-sponsoring the legislation. So a simple thank you call or email to them will do nicely.
In the House, well you aren't going to be surprised. Unconfirmed votes are Jason Altmire and Kathy Dahlkemper. However, both of these individuals voted FOR Hate Crimes protections so there is reason to believe they can be moved. It certainly is worth a few minutes of your time to try.
Jason represents portions of six counties. He's going to get intense pressure from the right wing, especially with the election coming up. It is important that you who live in his district get your message about economic development on his desk. This is about your ability to put food on the table for your family.
The Aliquippa Office is the best place to direct your calls: 724-378-0928. You can email him at this link.
This doesn't have to be hard. Simply write down your bullet points. When you make the call/send the email, provide your contact information so they know you live in the district. Then make your case. Adding a personal touch is important. That could be identifying yourself as a person of faith or referencing a family member who has lost a job or been denied a job because of their identity as LGBT. Anything that helps unpack those awfu, but powerful, untruths will help.
If the bathroom tactic makes you roll your eyes, please find someone living in these districts to make these calls.