Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

The 9 Unconfirmed ENDA House Votes in Pennsylvania

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | July 01, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Kathleen Dahlkemper, PA, Pennsylvania

What are the political calculations that govern support of HR 3017, the current ENDA bill? This is what you need to understand if you want to help the bill pass.

Last week, I noted that the largest number of unconfirmed House Democrats on ENDA are in Pennsylvania.(The number of unconfirmed Reps is now down to 45, after Inclusive ENDA members in Florida and Idaho, among other places, confirmed more Representatives' positions.)

The large number of unconfirmed in Pennsylvania is not surprising, given that Pennsylvania was a major battleground state in the 08 election. And it is here that the issues become the most sharply defined, so it is a useful object lesson for all of us. If your Representative is unconfirmed in support of ENDA, they will likely have a version of the issues that the Representatives in Pennsylvania are having. If you're not from Pennsylvania, read this and add in your own representative's name. And email this to a friend in Pennsylvania. Remember, "You've Got A Friend In Pennsylvania."

The most important thing for Members of Congress is to hear real stories from real people in their districts. That way, they know there are people in their district who want this law passed, and it helps them understand the need. Also, while a direct appeal to principles of equality is a good start, it is not sufficient in the sometimes brutal work of realpolitik. What makes a Representative want to support ENDA? What points can be raised to them in a meeting, an email or a phone call? Will the Democrats more likely support ENDA than the Republicans? How do their previous positions play into this? How does their district formation affect their determination?

I use the term "unconfirmed" Representatives advisedly, as opposed to my previous usage of the misleading term "undecided." I received this wise bit of advice from some DC policy wonks. "Undecided" suggests that they are fence-straddlers, whereas, in point of fact, a number of them are Representatives whose past positions suggest they may support HR 3017 and they may have actually decided privately, according to those in the know, but have simply failed as of yet to make a public declaration to alert the rest of us. They may also have made commitments to constituents or lobbyists that we don't know about. But because ENDA unquestionably needs a grassroots effort to pass, all of these members of Congress need to hear from their constituents that we support it.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pa map.jpgIf you want to sign up to meet with your Pennsylvania Reps in August in your local district, click here. If you're not from Pennsylvania, email this to someone who is.

First off, as a general matter, I would note in any face-to-face meeting, email or telephone call, that this legislation creates no "special rights," but simply requires companies to judge employees on performance, not sexual orientation or gender identity. It does not permit preferential treatment based on quotas. It exempts members of the Armed Forces, veterans' preferences and religious organizations, and does not address domestic partner benefits.

I would also note that job protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity are no stranger to Pennsylvania.

Public employees in the state have been protected from job discrimination based on sexual orientation since 2002 and gender identity since 2003 as a result of Executive Order No. 2002-3 on equal employment opportunity.

The federal court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled in 2006 that transgender employees are protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under the rubric of sex discrimination in the case of Mitchell v. Axcan Scandipharm, Inc., No. Civ.A. 05-243, 2006 WL 456173, at *223 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 17, 2006).

20 cities all across the state have policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, as well as 44 Fortune 1000 companies and many other companies across Pennsylvania.

I note that I am not including Republican Representatives Bill Shuster, Joseph Pitts and Tim Murphy in this list of unconfirmed. Although I do not know whether they have specifically taken a public position on HR 3017, they all voted against the sexual-orientation only ENDA in 2007 and the hate crimes bill in 2009. They also also received a score of zero from the Human Rights Campaign. (While HRC has been less than consistent with regard to transgender issues, a rating of zero indicates no support of gay rights issues.) It is not impossible that these Republicans could change their minds about ENDA, and I encourage constituents in their districts to schedule meetings with them.

And, remember, though ENDA has not yet been introduced in the Senate, it will be soon and it is not too early to contact U.S. Senators to find out where they stand. So, Pennsylvanians, make sure Senators Specter and Casey hear from you too. More about them and other Senators later.

And so, without further adieu, I introduce "The Unconfirmed."

The Unconfirmed

Kathleen Dahlkemper

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Representative Dahlkemper (D) represents Pennsylvania's Third Congressional District, which covers the area around Erie, Pennsylvania, in the northwest corner of the state. It's about 100 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio.

Wikipedia has some interesting information about her and the other Representatives discussed here. I recognize that Wikipedia is unreliable except to the extent that it cites documented sources, so I try to keep the information I use from Wikipedia to that which is documented or I can document from other sources. However, it does allow gathering of a lot of information relatively quickly, and I've already spent too many hours writing this post.

According to Wikipedia:

Dahlkemper won election to Congress in 2008 against an eight-term Republican incumbent in a 52-48 race. She was aided by large spending by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She is only the third Democrat to represent the district since 1893.

She is pro-life and supports gun rights. Her views are similar in this regard to most of her Democratic colleagues from Pennsylvania including John Murtha, Paul Kanjorski, Tim Holden, Jason Altmire, and Chris Carney. (I suppose, then, that its no suprise that these are the other ENDA unconfirmed Democrats in Pennsylvania.) Speaking of her district, Dahlkemper has said, "It's a moderate district...To go really far to the left would not be representing it." When recently contacted, her office stated that she had not made a decision on HR 3017, the current ENDA bill. She did vote for HR 1913, the Hate Crimes Act, which is a good sign that she understands the need for protections.

I think that Rep. Dahlkemper may support ENDA, but will need some convincing. If I were talking to her, one thing I might point out that Erie County has had an ordinance against job discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity since 2002. I would also note that all of the Ohio Democratic caucus, in the more conservative state next door, are supporting HR 3017 (ENDA). I would think, but perhaps not say, that it was really nice of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to spend large amounts to help her win the race.

Contact info: Kathy Dahlkemper (D-03) 202-225-5406 814-456-2038 202-225-3103 Email

Jason Altmire

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Representative Altmire (D) represents Pennsylvania's Fourth District, just south of Representative Dahlkemper's district, and just north of Pittsburgh. According to Wikipedia:

Altmire won in 2006 against a three-term incumbent Rebublican considered invulnerable. He won again in 2008 election by a 56-44 margin. He carried a wide lead throughout the campaign and the race was never considered to be competitive.

The 2006 Project Votesmart National Political Awareness Test indicates that he did not then support the addition of sexual orientation to federal employment law. Representative Altmire was not a co-sponsor of the original inclusive ENDA bill in 2007. However, when the vote came to the floor for the vote on the sexual orientation only bill, he voted in favor of it. He also voted for HR 1913, the Hate Crimes Act.

I think that Rep. Altmire may support ENDA, but will need some convincing because of his Project Votesmart responses, and the fact that his prior vote on ENDA involved sexual orientation only. One of his major contributors is the AFL-CIO, as well as several other unions If I were talking to Representative Altmire, I would note that the AFL-CIO is solidly behind this inclusive ENDA. I would also point out that nearby Pittsburgh has had a non-discrimination ordinance covering sexual orientation since 1990 and gender identity since 1997.

Contact info: Jason Altmire (D-04) 202-225-2565 724-226-1304 202-226-2274 Email

Glenn Thompson

Representative Thompson, a Republican, represents the Fifth Congressional District, which is to the immediate east of Representative Dahlkemper's district.

According to Wikipedia, after the Republican incumbent retired, Thompson won the 2008 election. While Republicans have generally won over 65% in this district, Thompson won with only 57% of the vote. According to the Washington Post, Thompson has voted with a majority of his Republican colleagues 91.2% of the time during the current Congress. He voted against HR 1913, the Hate Crimes Act. His responses to the 2006 Project Votesmart National Political Awareness Test indicated that he was not supporting addition of sexual orientation to federal employment law.

I think Rep. Thompson may not support ENDA. However, the effect of local constituents meeting face to face and explaining how it affects them personally cannot be underestimated. I don't think calls and emails will cut it.

Contact info: Glenn (GT) Thompson (R-05) 202-225-5121 814-353-0215 202-225-5796 https://forms.house.gov/thompson/contact-form.shtml

Jim Gerlach

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Rep. Gerlach represents the 6th Congressional District, a world away from the others described above. The 6th is 300 miles away in the southeast corner of the state, just west of Philadelphia. Philadelphia, of course, has a non-discrimination ordinance based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to Wikipedia, he has said he's considering a gubernatorial run, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee has contacted him to discuss running for Arlen Specter's seat, so might not be feeling particularly expansive at the moment. However, he was one of only 18 Republicans in the House to cross party lines and vote for HR 1913, the Hate Crimes Act. He also voted for the sexual-orientation only ENDA in 2007.

In addition, his district is narrowly Republican by the thinnest of thin margins. According to Wikipedia, he barely defeated his Democratic opponent in 2002 by 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. In 2004, he won by 51.0 percent to 49.0 percent. In 2006, he won by 50.6 percent to 49.4 percent. Gerlach was the only member of the "Philly Trio" of vulnerable Republican Congressmen to survive the 2006 election. He is a member of two moderate political groups, The Republican Main Street Partnership, which supports embryonic stem-cell research, and Republicans for Environmental Protection.

I think Jim Gerlach may support ENDA.

Contact info: Jim Gerlach (R-06) 202-225-4315 610-376-7630 202-225-8440 http://www.house.gov/writerep/

Christopher P. Carney

Rep. Carney represents the 10th Conressional district in the northeastern corner of the state. He is a bit of a political contradiction. He was one of only 17 Democrats to cross party lines to vote against HR 1913, the Hate Crimes Act. However, his 2006 Project Votesmart Political Awareness Test showed that he supported the additional of sexual orientation to the federal employment law, and he did vote in favor of the sexual orientation-only ENDA in 2007.

According to Wikipedia:

He opposes gay marriage, supports gun rights, and does not favor abortion, but supports family planning and comprehensive reproductive healthcare. While opposing Social Security privatization, he is open to adding private accounts. He supports federal investment in stem cell research, and is an advocate of universal healthcare.

The 10th had been in Republican hands since 1961, and had been made even more Republican when the state legislature cut out heavily Democratic Scranton in an effort to protect the previous Republican incumbent. In 1998 and 2000, the four-term Republican incumbent won by narrow margins. Revelations of the incumbent's extramarital affair and Carney's 30 labor union endorsements gave Carney a 53% to 47% win.

I think Carney may support ENDA. If I were talking to him, I would definitely make the point that the AFL-CIO and other unions support an inclusive ENDA.

Contact info: Christopher P. Carney (D-10) 202-225-3731 570-585-9988 202-225-9594 http://carney.house.gov/contact.shtml

Paul E. Kanjorski

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Rep. Kanjorski represents the 11th Congressional district, immediately south of Rep. Carney's district.

Kanjorski did not indicate support for adding sexual orientation to the federal employment law in his 2006 Project Votesmart Political Courage test, but he did vote for the sexual orientation only ENDA in 2007, and for HR 1913, the Hate Crimes Act.

According to Wikipedia, Kanjorski has won election since1984 by solid margins. In his last election in 2008, he was predicted to be in a very narrow race, said to be trailing by 5 points, but he nonetheless won 52 to 48. His particular strength is in Lackawanna County, which contains Scranton, a city that has had sexual orientation and gender identity protections in place since 2005.

When recently contacted, his office stated that he had not reached a decision on HR 3017, the current ENDA bill.

I think Kanjorski may support ENDA.

Contact info: Paul E. Kanjorski (D-11) 202-225-6511 570-496-1011 202-225-0764 http://kanjorski.house.gov/

John Murtha

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Representative Murtha represents the 12th Congressional District, in the southeastern corner of the state. According to Wikipedia, the district was drawn specifically for Murtha, including many heavily Democratic regions, while leaving more right-leaning Pittsburgh suburban regions to the 4th or 18th district, and rural conservative regions to the 3rd or 9th district.

Also according to Wikipedia, Murtha is strongly pro-labor. Murtha did not indicate support for adding sexual orientation to the federal employment law in his 2006 Project Votesmart Political Courage test, but he did vote for the sexual orientation only ENDA in 2007. He did not vote on HR 1913, the Hate Crimes Act. However, he did vote yes on the same hate crimes language (HR1592) in 2007.

I think Rep. Murtha could support ENDA, and if I were talking to him, I would point out the AFL-CIO endorsement of inclusive ENDA

Contact info: John Murtha (D-12) 202-225-2065 724-349-3195 202-225-5709 https://forms.house.gov/murtha/IMA/issue_subscribe.htm

Charlie Dent

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Rep. Dent, a Republican, represents the 15th Congressional district, which is immediately south of Rep. Kanjorski's district. Wikipedia describes the district as having a slightly Democratic tilt. It includes Allentown, which has prohibited job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity since 2002, Easton, which has had the same since 2006, and Northhampton County, which has a policy against job discrimination based on sexual orientation in public employment. Rep. Dent was one of only 18 Republicans to cross party lines to vote for HR 1913, the Hate Crimes Act. He also voted in favor of the sexual orientation only ENDA in 2007.

I think Rep. Dent may support ENDA. I would point out all the cities in his district with ENDA-like protections and suggest that a majority of his constituents support it.

Contact info: Charlie Dent (R-15) 202-225-6411 215-541-4106 202-226-0778 http://dent.house.gov/contact.aspx

Tim Holden

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Rep. Holden represents the 17th Congressional district in the central part of the state, which includes Harrisburg, the state capital.

Holden did indicate support for adding sexual orientation to the federal employment law in his 2006 Project Votesmart Political Courage test. He voted in favor of the sexual orientation only ENDA, and for HR 1913, the Hate Crimes Act. However, when recently contacted, his office stated that he had "no position" on HR 3017, the current ENDA bill.

I think that Holden could support ENDA. I would point out to him that Harrisburg has had sexual orientation and gender identity protections since 1984.

Contact info: Tim Holden (D-17) 202-225-5546 610-921-3502 202-226-0996 http://holden.house.gov/contactform_zipcheck.shtml

If you want to sign up to meet with your Pennsylvania Reps in August in your local district, click here


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Lots of great information. Thanks!

Hi.
Interesting that most of them have email forms that are restricted to their own constituents.

Understandable from one viewpoint, however...

my wife and I are looking for somewhere to relocate and set up our wellness center business. So we're basically shopping with a lot of criteria, and a friendly political environment is one of them. so, prospective constituents can't email these folks either. Hm.

I'm sending snail mail. I'm local, so it should get there in a day.

Keeping our fingers crossed...
-Jude
(and thanks again for your work here)