Yesterday, as reported here, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, S 1584, was introduced into the U.S. Senate by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, along with three other co-sponsors, two of them Republicans.
It has been widely noted in press releases that it's the first time ENDA has been introduced in the Senate, though it has been in the House in many forms on and off since 1974. This is significant not only for its historic nature, but it also signals that the real battles on this legislation are to be found in the Senate. After all, as I pointed out last month, the U.S. Senate is the only spot on earth where a majority of 100 is not 50, but 60.
After adding in all the co-sponsors of S 1584, there are 44 Senators with confirmed yes votes, as you can see on the Facebook Inclusive ENDA Senate spreadsheet. Another 16 votes must be found before S 1584 can be passed.
16 votes doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a big chunk of the Senate. Some Senators will require a lot of persuading, like someplace very hot freezing over or certain oinking mammals sprouting wings and flying.
If your Senators are unconfirmed, you should be on the phone right now, asking them to co-sponsor S 1584. Click here for a list of the unconfirmed Senators with contact info.
Where Do We Find 16 Votes?
Where can we get those additional 16 votes? My guesstimate is that there are another 14 Senators more or less likely to vote yes, though unconfirmed as of yet.
Why do I think they will vote in favor of a bill protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity? After a search of prior bills going back to the 108th Congress, I have found that all of these Senators have previously co-sponsored bills with sexual orientation and gender identity language (except as noted below).
Doesn't mean they definitely will now, but it's not a pigs-flying cold-heck type of guess. Here they are, with contact info.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) 870-910-6896
Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-CO) 719-328-1100
Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) 302-674-3308
Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE) 302-424-8090
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) 812-218-2317
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) 504-589-2427
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) 573-651-0964
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) 406-756-1150 (SO only)
Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) 701-852-0703 (SO only)
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 775-882-7343 (SO only)
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) 605-226-3440
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) 304-264-4626 (neither SO nor GI, but his record suggests support)
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, IV (D-WV) 304-253-9704
Hey! That's Only 14!
But despair not, dear heart! There are another 9 on the Facebook Inclusive ENDA target list because they all voted for the hate crimes bill, with the exception of Sen. Ensign. But Ensign, surprisingly, previously co-sponsored the hate crimes bill in 2005 (S1145), so you never know.
We only need 3 of these (if the other 14 all give their support). Here they are, with contact info. You should call them, too, and ask them to co-sponsor S1584).
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 907-271-3735
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) 501-324-6336
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) 850-942-8415
Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) 812-465-6313
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) 406-257-3360
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) 336-333-5311
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) 701-852-0703
Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) 702-388-6605
Sen. George Voinovich (R) 216-522-7095
There are another 44 unconfirmed Senators. They are perhaps less likely, but should not be ruled out.
Call Now And Ask Them To Co-Sponsor
The bottom line here is that we are very close in the Senate, but there are still 30 states with unconfirmed Senators: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IN, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NV, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WY
You should call these Senators and ask them to co-sponsor the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, S 1584. Oh, and put the telephone number to Congress on your speed dial. It's number 5 on my cellphone. 202-224-3121.