Two key pieces of pro-LGBT legislation — the Uniting American Families Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — are set for introduction in Congress on Thursday, according to an informed source.
An LGBT rights advocate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) would introduce UAFA in the House and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) would introduce ENDA in the Senate.
“It’s actually kind of a big gay week,” the advocate said. “We also have the civil unions bill in Delaware expected on Thursday and then Friday is the DOMA hearing. So it’s actually a pretty active week where our issues are concerned.”
Nadler’s office didn’t respond on short notice to respond to confirm that UAFA would see introduction in the House on Thursday. Last week, Ilan Kayatsky, a Nadler spokesperson, said the lawmaker would introduce the bill “shortly.”
As it was introduced in the 111th Congress, UAFA would enable gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States as straight Americans can do for their foreign spouses. Based on U.S. Census data from 2000, current immigration law threatens to tear apart 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples in the United States.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the House introduction of UAFA would be concurrent with the Senate introduction. In the 111th Congress, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) was the sponsor of UAFA.
Erica Chabot, a Leahy spokesperson, said her boss would again introduce the legislation in the 112th Congress, but added she doesn’t have a date for when that would happen.
“Sen. Leahy is committed to reintroducing UAFA, but I don’t have a date certain at this time,” she said.
On the same day Nadler is expected to introduce UAFA in the House, Merkley is expected to introduce ENDA in the Senate.
Julie Edwards, a Merkley spokesperson, said in response to a request to confirm whether the bill would be introduced Thursday that the legislation would be debut “soon” and she could say more later.
The Senate version of ENDA, according to Capitol Hill sources, is set to have Republican support immediately upon introduction from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Mirk Kirk (R-Ill.),
Kevin Kelley, a Collins spokesperson, said his boss and Kirk would be original co-sponsors along with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. But Kelley said he couldn’t confirm the date of introduction at this time.
Christian Berle, deputy executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said Snowe would also be an original co-sponsor for ENDA. Snowe and Collins were both original co-sponsors in the 111th Congress.
“I just got confirmation from Sen. Snowe’s office that she will be an original co-sponsor of ENDA,” Berle said.
ENDA would bar job discrimination against LGBT people in most situations in the public and private workforce. Job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is legal in 29 states and legal in 38 states on the basis of gender identity.
Last week, gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced the House version of ENDA. As of Monday, the legislation had 117 co-sponsors. Frank has said Republican control of the House will prevent passage of ENDA during the 112th Congress.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, Chabot confirmed Leahy is set to introduce UAFA on Thursday in the Senate, which would be concurrent with the introduction of the bill in the House. She said she’d have information on co-sponsors upon introduction.