Betty Greene Salwak

Senator Lugar Responds

Filed By Betty Greene Salwak | September 13, 2009 11:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Richard Lugar

A recent post by Jillian Weiss asked Projectors to contact Indiana Senator Richard Lugar about supporting ENDA legislation. She provided links and asked if he responded to let her know.

In August, Dr. Weiss made it just as easy then to contact our senators by providing links. One click and I was on Lugar's webpage for emails. I don't have a copy of the original email I sent, but I do have his response to my request for ENDA support.

When I taught persuasive writing to secondary students, we started with critical reading. Whenever anyone presents a persuasive argument--including me--ask yourself "Who stands to benefit?" Read Lugar's response with that in mind.

Dear Mrs. Salwak:

Thank you for contacting me with your support for a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which seeks to prevent employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The ENDA legislation has been introduced over the course of the past several Congresses. I have not been supportive of ENDA in the past. In my view, this is a policy change with many implications beyond whether the government can effectively apply nondiscrimination laws to sexual orientation.

I have met with many pro-ENDA advocates from Indiana, and I appreciate the work that has been done on the latest versions of the bill. However, I remain concerned that ENDA would unduly increase litigation, create momentum for additional contentious protected employee classifications, and adversely affect the enormous number of small businesses not covered by the bill's 15-employee exemption. I also am concerned that ENDA would induce employers to probe the sexual orientation of their employees as a means of preparing for or preventing potential lawsuits or EEOC actions. Such a development would not be positive for employee privacy or workplace dynamics, and it could have unpredictable consequences for the fairness of hiring decisions. I understand that ENDA does not require such inquiries; however, many employers will see some degree of information about the sexual orientation of their employees as a vital element in dealing with potential litigation.

I will continue to listen to thoughtful arguments about this legislation and other measures affecting treatment of homosexuals and transgender individuals under U.S. law. I will also continue to support the hate crimes legislation that expands the definition of a hate crime to include those based on sexual orientation.

Thank you, again, for contacting me.

The arguments put forth in this letter come down to money. Who stands to lose if ENDA passes? Insurance companies, according to this line of reasoning. I believe that insurance lobbyists have Senator Lugar's ear. It might prove fruitful to point out that a minority's rights are being sold for corporate profits.

I am eager to hear from those better informed than I how they might respond to this information.


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Jillian has a post coming up tomorrow morning about this, Birdie.

This needs to serve as a reminder to our Hoosier readers though that Lugar really needs to feel the pressure to vote in favor of ENDA. With out state equality org working against us, we've got our work cut out for us.

Sorry, Betty, Bil and Hoosiers, I dropped the ball. My post will come out Tuesday morning, and will provide the ammunition you need to blow away these two points.

Donna Pandori Donna Pandori | September 14, 2009 11:23 AM

Do we ever have our work cut out for us in Indiana! I so see our state coming in last until a major movement is mounted and funded here. No one currently has the leadership to orchestrate this. I have, however, been impressed with Zac Hart's Impact Indy group. I see them growing to be more of a force some day. They'll need to reach out past Indianapolis though to rally people across the state to the cause. Right now everything is too centered around Indianapolis.

I would be willing to donate and support an organization who was capable of making progress towards. At our current pace I may never live to see it happen.