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Boehner sees ‘no basis or no need’ for ENDA

Speaker says legislation against LGBT workplace discrimination ‘unnecessary’

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John Boehner, Speaker of the House, GOP, Republican, gay news, Washington Blade
John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner said he sees “no basis or no need” for ENDA (Blade file photo by Michael Key).

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he sees “no basis or no need” for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act when asked Thursday whether he would allow a vote on the legislation despite his misgivings on the bill.

In a response to a question from the Washington Blade on whether Republican leadership will allow a House vote on the bill, Boehner reiterated his previously stated personal opposition to ENDA.

“I am opposed to discrimination of any kind, in the workplace and any place else,” Boehner said. “But I think this legislation that I’ve dealt with as chairman of The Education & The Workforce Committee long before I was back in the leadership is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits. People are already protected in the workplace. I’m opposed to continuing this. Listen, I understand people have differing opinions on this issue, and I respect those opinions. But as someone who’s worked in the employment law area for all my years in the State House and all my years here, I see no basis or no need for this legislation.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Boehner is “flat out wrong” on his assertions about ENDA.

“The late, great Senator Moynihan of New York said that everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts,” Griffin said. “It’s shocking that Speaker Boehner, entrusted by the people to make laws, is so fundamentally mistaken about what’s currently on the books. The Speaker is flat out wrong on the facts and the law.”

Despite the speaker’s assertions that people “are already protected” against workplace bias, discriminating against someone for being gay is legal in 29 states and discriminating against someone for being transgender is legal in 33 states. As ThinkProgress notes, Boehner’s home state of Ohio lacks any kind of law protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination.

Tico Almeida, president of the LGBT group Freedom to Work, said Boehner’s “excuses” for not bringing up ENDA for a vote “are just plain wrong.”

“He should know that a majority of state legislatures have failed to pass LGBT workplace protections,” Almeida said. “We will continue to work with House Republicans who support ENDA to push for a vote, but the best thing that could happen for ENDA right now is President Obama leading by example and signing the executive order.”

Watch the video here (courtesy ThinkProgress)

A transcript of the exchange follows.

Washington Blade: Mr. Speaker, last week in the Senate, 10 Republicans joined the Democratic caucus in approving the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Proponents of the bill say there are sufficient votes in this chamber to pass it on the floor. Despite your misgivings on the bill, will Republican leadership allow a vote on that bill so members can have their say?

John Boehner: I am opposed to discrimination of any kind, in the workplace and any place else. But I think this legislation that I’ve dealt with as chairman of The Education & The Workforce Committee long before I was back in the leadership is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits. People are already protected in the workplace. I’m opposed to continuing this. Listen, I understand people have differing opinions on this issue, and I respect those opinions. But as someone who’s worked in the employment law area for all my years in the State House and all my years here, I see no basis or no need for this legislation.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. sgriska

    November 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Instead of asking him the same questions over and over again, journalists need to confront him on his bald-faced LIE.

    • mrmew55

      November 14, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Why should we expect any more from “journalists” these days – all they do is provide PR for those in power – “real” journalists must be turning over in their graves!

  2. Kathy

    November 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    He should be asked to provide proof of those existing protections for LGBT people.

    Otherwise – I see no basis or need for Speaker Boehner.

  3. EL DORADO

    November 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    HRC can whine all it wants to Boehner that he’s wrong. He knows he’s wrong, he won’t admit it, but he doesn’t want it to become law and knows it might if he allows a vote on it,so he won’t let it get a vote. So you’re stuck at an impasse that you likely won’t be able to do anything about. Why is this a shock? Has Boehner ever voted for anything that benefits GLBT people?

    Nancy Pelosi can chastise him all she wants, too. He doesn’t care. Pelosi should have allowed the bill to have a vote when she was Speaker instead of making excuses and had she done so it would be law now. I recall her saying we had to either get a vote on ending DADT or ENDA but couldn’t have both. She failed to allow us to take advantage of a unique opportunity. Will the Blade allow me to criticize the Dems and Pelosi? I’m only speaking facts and she should be held accountable for it.

    Prospects aren’t a sure thing that the Dems will get the House back either next year so ENDA may not be a reality for another generation unless we can get the White House in 2016. Take nothing for granted.

  4. Alessandra Barros

    November 15, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Boehner is doing just fine not lapping up the lies from Democrats and their twisted LGBT base.

    No one has any obligation to employ people who are destroying society
    because of their political agenda. It’s no different than being forced
    to employ any other individual with a harmful ideology.

    There is no such thing as equating “sexual orientation” to race (or
    any in-born physical characteristics), thus legislation that equate it
    to racial discrimination is empty of meaning. It is a fraudulent concept
    at its very root. This is just one more case that evidences that
    every piece of legislation regarding discrimination based on sexual
    orientation is a fraud and must be scrapped. Lastly, and the most
    important point in all of this, is that once you establish a “protected
    class” for whom different laws apply, you’ve clearly done away with
    equal protection before the law.

    ENDA isn't just a push for a special right – it will forcibly bring
    about the persecution and discrimination of anyone who doesn't normalize
    homosexuality and transgender-ism Everyone who has such problems
    (LGBTs) is responsible for investigating their underlying psychological
    problems that produce their dysfunctional sexual psychologies. Having a major problem with heterosexuality is no reason to force employers to keep such people on staff.

    • EL DORADO

      November 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      Boehner only is doing fine in lapping up the rear end of his twisted right-wing conservative base such as you in denying a fair up and down vote on ENDA. It’s your agenda that is polarizing America with your endless attacks on the rights of GLTB Americans. It’s destroying decency, fairness and justice! Your agenda distorts facts if not invents them to create hysteria in order to influence people. It’s the REAL Fraud.

      Conveniently, your specious rant ignores the fact that Religion is NOT an in-born characteristic like race or gender either. It’s a “CHOICE” that is nonetheless protected from job discrimination! If you can do it for that, then you can do it for the choice of GLBT Americans to be honest about who they are!

      You obviously are too dense to realize that anti-discrimination laws that protect race, gender, religion, handicap or age already established special classes. Extending such rights to include GLTB Americans doesn’t create anything unprecedented.

      Your hateful obnoxious rant only proves that there are people out there that want to discriminate and deny people employment based on sexual orientation and being transgender. The bill makes religious exemptions which are more than adequate. The secular workplace should be a level playing field allowing all to earn a living. That is what America is about.

      The only physiological problem that needs to be treated is your own. You’re anti-social if not psychotic and need therapy and medication to calm you down before you shoot the people around you!

  5. peter rosenstein

    November 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Chris as usual great reporting even if I don’t like what the subjects of your reports say- keep up the great work

  6. Lynette LeFrancis

    November 19, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    You live it, and then state there is no need for ENDA. What an ass !

  7. Kerry M. Berger

    November 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    We have too many narrow-minded, impotent, geezer politicians in Washington DC in the Republican Party. It’s time to clean House of these turds.

  8. George M Melby

    November 20, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Boehner and his band of idiots are the reason the GOTP is going down the drain come 2014 and 2016… I cannot wait!!! Dak!

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Comings & Goings

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Troy Cline, gay news, Washington Blade
The 'Comings & Goings' column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected]

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success. 

Shin Inouye, gay news, Washington Blade
Steven McCarty

Congratulations to Steven McCarty on being named president of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. He said, “I’m honored to be installed as the president of the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. and to be able to shepherd our programs and volunteers to impact youth where they are needed most. Our club’s new partnership with SMYAL has already turned a portion of their Youth Center in Southeast D.C. into the first Clinical Services Department in the District that offers free and affirming mental healthcare to LGBTQ Youth. As an openly gay man, I’m proud to further our club’s mission with radical empathy and inclusion.” McCarty has also recently been awarded Kiwanis’ highest honor, the George Hixson award.

McCarty is a Technical Program Specialist at stac labs in D.C. He is also founder and campaign manager at Abolish Racism 2020. He worked as a Senior Customer Success Manager,  Crowdskout. He was a workplace equality intern at Human Rights Campaign and a summer fellow at Michigan State AFL-CIO, in Lansing, Mich. 

McCarty earned his bachelor’s in Political Science and Communications Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Congratulations also to Shin Inouye on his appointment as Executive Vice President of Communications, The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund. 

Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference and The Education Fund said, “We are thrilled Shin Inouye will be taking on even greater responsibilities on our senior leadership team. His incredible talent and commitment to this organization and our work are truly outstanding, and his strategic leadership will no doubt continue moving us forward in the fight to protect and advance civil and human rights.”

Inouye has held a number of positions with the organization including Managing Director of Communications. Inouye also held a number of high-level positions in the Obama administration, including Press Secretary and Acting Senior Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Executive Office of the President; White House Office of Communications: Director of Specialty Media; and served as an authorized spokesperson for the Obama Inaugural Committee, with a focus on specialty media outlets, including LGBTQ, AAPI, Native American, Youth/College, Faith, and Jewish press. Prior to that Inouye was Communications Director in the Office of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and has also worked for the ACLU and as a summer intern with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. 

Inouye received a number of honors including being named One of 25 “LGBTI next generation leaders to watch” by Out in National Security and the Atlantic Council; and One of “40 Asian American Pacific Islander National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders” by New America and the Diversity in National Security Network.

Shin Inouye
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Petition urges White House to develop plan to protect LGBTQ Afghans

Taliban regained control of country on Aug. 15

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Two men in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahmad Qais Munzahim)

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition that urges the Biden administration to do more to help LGBTQ Afghans who remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country.

The Human Rights Campaign; the Council for Global Equality; Immigration Equality; Rainbow Railroad; the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration and the International Refugee Assistance Project on Friday presented to the White House the petition that urges the administration to adopt “a 10-point action plan … to expedite and ease the refugee and asylum process for LGBTQI Afghans.”

The same six groups last month urged the Biden administration to adopt a plan that would “prioritize the evacuation and resettlement of vulnerable refugee populations, including LGBTQI people, and ensure that any transitory stay in a third country is indeed temporary by expediting refugee processing.” The groups, among other things, asked the White House to “speak out forcefully against human rights abuses by the new Taliban regime and any increased targeting of vulnerable communities, including LGBTQI people, and use existing mechanisms to sanction and hold accountable perpetrators of human rights abuse.”

The Taliban entered Kabul, the Afghan capital, on Aug. 15 and regained control of the country.

A Taliban judge in July said the group would once again execute people if it were to return to power in Afghanistan.

Rainbow Railroad and Immigration Equality are among the other groups that have continued their efforts to evacuate LGBTQ Afghans since American troops completed their withdrawal from the country on Aug. 30. Some of the 50 Afghan human rights activists who Taylor Hirschberg, a researcher at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health who is also a Hearst Foundation scholar, has been able to help leave the country are LGBTQ.

“We reiterate our call for President Biden to adopt the 10-point policy plan which will expedite and ease the refugee process for LGBTQI Afghans,” said Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof in a press release. “The 10,000+ people who signed our petition have demonstrated that they want the United States, long a beacon of refuge for those fleeing persecution, to take action to protect LGBTQI Afghans—a vulnerable group who risk oppression, even death, simply for who they are or who they love. Now is the time for action.”

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Utah

VIDEO: Utah deal promoted as national model for LGBTQ rights, religious liberty

Data finds state has 2nd highest support for LGBTQ rights

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(Screen capture via YouTube)

A new video from the premier LGBTQ group in Utah, challenging the idea LGBTQ rights must be at odds with religious liberty, promotes an agreement reached in the state as a potential model to achieve a long sought-after update to civil rights law at the federal level.

The video, published Friday by Equality Utah, focuses on a 2015 agreement in Utah between the supporters of LGBTQ rights and the Mormon Church to enact a compromise acceptable to both sides. The agreement by those two sides led to an LGBTQ civil rights law in the state, which has Republican control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, says in the video dialogue is key to achieving meaningful success, whether its among the people of Utah, a state legislature or lawmakers in Congress.

“When you are working with LGBT rights in a state like Utah, and you want to advance legal equality, you can’t do it without working with Republicans, with conservative, with people of faith,” Williams says.

Williams, speaking with the Washington Blade over a Zoom call, said the main audience for the video is people on “the center right and the center left” willing to listen to other side when it comes to LGBTQ rights and religious liberty.

“People that have the courage to reach out to each other, and sit down across from each other and say, ‘Hey look, let’s hammer this out,” Williams said. “That’s who my audience is.”

Not only did Utah enact non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, but the state under a Republican governor administratively banned widely discredited conversion therapy for youth. When lawmakers proposed legislation that would ban transgender youth from competing in school sports, the proposal was scuttled when Gov. Spencer Cox (whom Williams called a “super Mormon”) said he’d veto it after it came to his desk.

Marina Gomberg, a former board for Equality Utah, is another voice in the video seeking dispel the narrative religious liberty and LGBTQ rights are in conflict.

“in order to protect LGBTQ people, we don have to deny religious liberty, and in order to provide protections for religious liberties, we don’t have to deny LGBTQ people,” Gomberg says. “The idea that we do is a fallacy that Utah has dismantled.”

In July, new polling demonstrated the surprisingly the Utah, despite being a conservative state, has the second highest percentage of state population in support for non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The data Public Religion Research Institute from 77 percent of Utah residents support LGBTQ people, which is just behind New Hampshire at 81 percent.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the pro-LGBTQ American Unity Fund, said the Utah agreement demonstrates the possibility of reaching an agreement at the federal level once “second order” issues are put into perspective.

“The first order question has to be how are we winning the culture,” Deaton said. “Do people even want to pass the bill? And if they do, you then figure out the details.”

The American Unity Fund has helped promote as a path forward for LGBTQ non-discrimination at the federal level the Fairness for For All Act, legislation seeking to reach a middle ground on LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. Polling earlier this year found 57 percent of the American public back a bipartisan solution in Congress to advance LGBTQ civil rights.

Supporters of the Equality Act, the more established vehicle for LGBTQ rights before Congress, say the Fairness for For All Act would give too many carve-out for LGBTQ rights in the name of religious freedom. The Equality Act, however, is all but dead in Congress and has shown no movement in the U.S. Senate.

Skeptics of the Utah law would point out the law doesn’t address public accommodations, one of the more challenging aspects in the fight for LGBTQ rights and one or remaining gaps in civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County. As a result, it’s perfectly legal in Utah for a business owner to discriminate against LGBTQ coming as patrons.

Williams, however, shrugged off the idea the lack of public accommodations protections in Utah make the agreement in the state makes it any less of a model, making the case the spirit behind the deal is what matters.

“I think copying and pasting Utah’s law doesn’t work for lots of reasons,” Wililams said. “What’s most important is a model of collaboration because when you are sitting around the table with each other — Democrats and Republicans, LGBTQ people and people of faith — that’s when the transformation happens. That is when the mutual respect is really forged.”

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