The long-stalled Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is going to roll out shortly. Exactly when, and with what changes are uncertain. But it's coming, and Representative Frank has promised a vote by the end of March. If you value the need for job protections as I do, we must be prepared to lobby -- hard, fast and furious.
On Tuesday, March 16, there will be a lobby day specifically for ENDA in Washington, D.C.. LGBT people and allies from around the country who support ENDA will be there. I will be there. Will you?
It is particularly important to ENDA that people attend from the eight states in which Senators are on the fence. If you live in one of these states, you hold the fate of ENDA in your hands.
- North Carolina
- North Dakota>
- West Virginia
This is too important to be limited to only middle or upper class people who can afford a ticket. If you are from one of these eight states, and you are a currently-unemployed LGBT person who is unemployed because of job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, I would like to help you get there. More info after the jump.
A policy conference, lobby training and phone bank will be held on Sunday and Monday, March 14 and 15. Registration is free. It's also not as expensive to get to DC and get a hotel room as you might think. If ENDA passes, how much would that be worth to you economically? More than the price of a ticket to DC, I assure you.
I did some research on the current prices available on Orbitz.com for flight plus hotels for two nights. Of course, if you only came for the lobby day itself, the cost would be less because it's one less hotel day.
- Alaska: $707
- Arkansas: $351
- Florida: $327
- Indiana: $291
- North Carolina: $271
- North Dakota: $853
- Ohio: $309
- West Virginia: $501
Is it worth spending a few hundred dollars to come to DC to lobby for ENDA? Well, let's put it this way -- we're closer than we've ever been before.
The House has enough votes. There are 223 likely yes votes - 5 more than a majority. There are also 29 unconfirmed votes, and probably at least half of those will go in our favor. Thus, the smart money is on passage by the House. If I were a betting person, I'd say the odds are 2 to 1 in favor. Here's the spreadsheet with specific info for each Representative.
The Senate, however, is missing a few votes. There are 55 likely yes votes - 5 more than a majority. But because the Republicans are filibustering everything, we may need 60 votes. That would mean we need 5 more votes. Where can those votes come from? That's where the list of states above come in. Senators in those states are unconfirmed, and may very well vote for ENDA based on their previous positions -- if people from their states talk to them in sufficient numbers. Here's the spreadsheet with specific info for each Senator.
Now, some readers have argued that no amount of lobbying will get us the necessary numbers. They say that we need to demand our rights and to talk to family, friends and neighbors until there is such a groundswell of support that Senators have to vote in our favor. But that's a long-term proposition -- years or decades. I believe that will happen eventually, especially as a new generation comes into office. But I'm not ready to give up on the thousands and hundreds of thousands who are now experiencing job discrimination for now.
If you would like to come to DC for the lobby day, and you are unemployed because of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, and you are from one of these crucial states, I think our community should help get you there. After all, you are the ones who need this legislation. I have talked to some people who are behind ENDA 100%, and ready to put their money where their mouth is.
If you would like to come to DC for the lobby day, and you currently reside in one of the states I listed above, and you are currently unemployed because of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org describing your situation and how your presence in DC for the lobby day would make a difference for your US Senator. I cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate you, but I will make every effort to accommodate all those whose presence would make a difference. Please be as specific as possible in your email about how your presence would make a difference. Include your name, email address and telephone number. The subject line should read "DC LOBBY DAY ASSISTANCE REQUEST." Please send your email no later than March 5, 2010.
If any of those reading this would like to contribute money to the effort, please send me an email as well to email@example.com.
I have been very moved by what Mara Keisling, NCTE Executive Director, has said about this:
There's never been a more important time to come. With House action on ENDA possible at any minute, the House may even take action on ENDA around the time of our Lobby Days--there may never be another opportunity like this to have a direct impact on this bill. Never before have so many members of Congress supported and sponsored pro-LGBT legislation; never before have we been so close to passage. We've got to do everything we can to finish this work.
Let's all get behind her and push.