December 6, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Hispanic Caucus latest to endorse ENDA
Linda Sánchez, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade, California

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has endorsed a resolution from Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) supporting ENDA. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The caucus for Latino members of the U.S. House has added its name to the long list of supporters of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act amid a push for a House vote on the bill.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus voted Wednesday to endorse the legislation, which would prohibit anti-LGBT bias in the workforce, as a result of a resolution proposed by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.).

In a statement, Sanchez, vice chair of the caucus, called ENDA “an important, long overdue civil rights law.”

“Equality shouldn’t wait,” Sanchez said. “We need to break down the barriers of intolerance and bigotry that have kept too many talented people out of the workplace. The vast majority of Americans believe that job performance is what should determine whether you get hired, fired or promoted. It’s time for the House to pass ENDA and end workplace discrimination.”

House aides said two-thirds of the caucus voted to endorse ENDA, but wouldn’t disclose the way each of the 26 members of the caucus voted. According to aides, a majority vote is necessary for approval.

Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, similarly emphasized the importance of ENDA and praised Sanchez for supporting the legislation.

“Discrimination of any sort is unacceptable and goes against our country’s values of freedom and equality,” Hinojosa said. “I applaud my colleague Congresswoman Linda Sánchez for her leadership on this important issue and look forward to continuing the work with my CHC colleagues. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus will keep working to ensure that Congress continues moving forward on ENDA.”

The legislation already passed the Senate last month in a historic 64-32 bipartisan vote. In response to repeated requests to bring up ENDA for a House vote, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he opposes the measure.

It’s not the first time the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has endorsed a pro-LGBT initiative. In November, the caucus included protections for bi-national same-sex couples as part of its list of principles for comprehensive immigration reform. Although the Senate Judiciary Committee opted not to include the LGBT language in its version of reform, the issue became moot after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Last month, Sanchez held a congressional field hearing in Los Angeles on the impact of workplace bias on LGBT Latinos in the aftermath of the publication of a Movement Advancement Project report titled, “A Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color.”

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, praised both the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Sanchez for their continued efforts in bringing to light the vulnerability of LGBT workers.

“Freedom to Work applauds the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for its tremendous support for LGBT workplace fairness, and especially Rep. Linda Sanchez with whom we worked on the recent ENDA field hearing in Los Angeles to delve into the findings of the ‘Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color’ report by the Movement Advancement Project and a coalition of civil rights organizations,” Almeida said.

Other Latino organizations that support ENDA are the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Trans-Latina Coalition.

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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