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June 14, 2013 2:56 PM ENDA Is Back, With Momentum

By Ed Kilgore

Harry Reid is tossing a new hand grenade into the volatile mix of Senate legislation on tap for July: shortly before becoming the 50th cosponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimation Act (ENDA), Reid indicated the long-stalled legislation might be coming to a Senate floor near him this summer.

Given the recent momentum for LGBT equality, it’s a bit shocking to recognize that ENDA—which simply bans workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation of gender identity—hasn’t been voted on in either House of Congress since 2007 (eons ago in terms of attitudes on this subject), when it passed what was then a Democratic-controlled House. The first version of the bill was actually introduced in 1974.

What makes a Senate revival of ENDA interesting right now is that Republicans who have been on their heels on equality issues of late have for the most part not had to cast actual votes, much less launch or sustain filibusters. Since all but the most hard-core conservatives understand which way the wind is blowing on LGBT acceptance, this isn’t a fight many will welcome. But few will have any freedom from “the base” to do anything other than stand in the trenches and watch their ammunition dwindle.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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