Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

South Dakota's Johnson and Thune: Legislators of the Day

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | August 27, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Johnson, Sandlin, South Dakota

The passing of Senator Kennedy is a sad day for the nation. It is also a sad day for ENDA, and for all progressive legislation, such as health care reform.

The Massachusetts law does not allow the appointment of a replacement for Senator Kennedy. Instead, the law calls for the seat to remain vacant until a special election is held 5 months from now. However, 60 votes will still be needed to overcome the likely Republican filibuster.

Instead of 47 confirmed yes votes in the Senate in support of ENDA, we now have 46. Instead of 58 likely votes in support of ENDA, we now have 57. I remind you that ENDA failed in 1996 by a single vote. The votes of South Dakota are now more important than ever.


There are some indications that the Massachusetts legislature might change the law to allow appointment of a successor, but as of now, we have lost not only a revered Senator but also a vote.

In spite of the sadness we feel as a result of Senator Kennedy's passing, we must renew our efforts to talk to our Senators about the importance of job equality, for which Senator Kennedy stood so firmly. Senators who we might have, in the past, ignored because their votes seemed unlikely, must no longer be ignored.

On this note, South Dakota is another state where there is one Senator who is more likely than the other to vote for ENDA. Your phone calls can make the difference.

Contact info and more after the jump.

Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD)
He cosponsored a previous bill with sexual orientation and gender identity. He also voted for the hate crimes bill. It seems like he would be "leaning yes" on this bill. Call him at 605-226-3440 and ask him to support S1584(Click here for email)

Senator John Thune (R-SD)
He voted against the hate crimes bill. It seems like he would be "leaning no" on this bill. But redemption is always possible. If he knows of widespread support for the bill, he may also be less inclined to vigorously oppose it. Call him at 605-348-7551 and ask him to support S1584. (Click here for email.)

South Dakota's sole Representative in the House, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, voted yes on the hate crimes bill and voted yes on ENDA in 2007. It seems like she is sympathetic to our cause. Call her at 605-394-5280 and ask her to support HR3017. (Click here for email.)

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