June 17, 2013 at 12:19 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Carper becomes 51st ENDA sponsor
Tom Carper, Delaware, United States Senate, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade, gay news

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is the 51st co-sponsor of ENDA (Photo public domain)

The senior senator from Delaware will become the 51st sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Washington Blade has learned.

In response to a Washington Blade inquiry, the office of Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) confirmed on Monday that he’ll sign on as a co-sponsor to the bill. Ian Sams, a Carper spokesperson, said Carper is “signing on as a co-sponsor of ENDA.”

“Sen. Carper believes it is important for federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – in the same way that current law addresses race, sex or religion – in order to ensure that all Americans are protected equally under the law,” Sams added.

Carper’s co-sponsorship means ENDA has 50 co-sposnors, and, counting Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) as chief sponsor of the bill, a total of 51 sponsors. That’s a bare majority in the Senate, but still not enough to overcome a filibuster, which requires 60 votes.

Just last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) signed on as a co-sponsor to the legislation as well as Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), a conservative Democrat who has voted against expanded background checks prior to gun sales.

The new co-sponsor also means ENDA now exceeds Senate legislation to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010 in terms of number of co-sponsors. According to the Library of Congress, ENDA is now tied with the 2001 Senate version of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act in terms of the number of co-sponsors.

Carper’s previous absence from the list of co-sponsors was noticeable because he co-sponsored the bill during the 112th Congress. But Sams dismissed any significance about the timing of Carper’s announcement.

“There’s nothing significant about the timing of his cosponsorship since he’s cosponsored the bill before, but he’s pleased to be the 51st senator to sign on in this Congress, as it means a majority of senators stand ready to pass this important legislation,” Carper said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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