Congress Introduces Two LGBT Bills, Chances For Passage Are Slim
April 14, 2011 5:47 pm ET by Equality Matters staff
Two major pieces of pro-LGBT legislation were introduced in Congress Thursday, despite the almost non-existent chances that they will even be considered by the Republican-controlled House this session.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit employment discrimination the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators including Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which would allow gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their partners for legal residency in the U.S., was also introduced, both in the House and Senate.
Both bills were introduced during the last session of Congress, but neither was ever brought to a floor vote.
FRANK: It's an organizing tool. Obviously, with the Republicans in power, you're not going to get the bill even considered. But, we have work still to do and we have overwhelming – over 90 percent – support on the Democratic side for ENDA based on sexual orientation and we had, in the last Congress, about 30 Republicans that way. Unfortunately, there's a drop-off from that number to transgender, and this is a chance to work hard to sway those who are committed to ENDA to support the full transgender inclusion as well.
This is an organizing effort. I'm going to be urging people to spend their time talking to those who have voted in the past for ENDA and are supportive of ENDA but where we're not certain they're still with us on the transgender issue. So, that’s what – having a bill before you makes it easier to organize people to do that.
The UAFA is riding into Congress on a wave of momentum after the Obama administration announced at the end of March that it would continue denying the green card applications of gay and lesbian married foreign nationals, citing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Though the fates of the bills remain to be seen, it’s safe to say that with increasingly anti-gay Republicans in control of the House, Democrats should expect to be reintroducing similar legislation next session.