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ENDA lands new Republican co-sponsor

Grimm becomes sixth House Republican to back pro-LGBT measure

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Michael Grimm, New York, United States House of Representatives, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade
Michael Grimm, New York, United States House of Representatives, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) has become a co-sponsor of ENDA. (Photo public domain)

A new House Republican has signed on as a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as LGBT advocates continue to push for a vote in the Republican-controlled chamber, the Washington Blade has learned.

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who represents Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn in Congress, elected to co-sponsor the bill Monday, according to sources familiar with the legislation.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s gay and lead sponsor of ENDA, commended Grimm for supporting the bill, which would bar employers from discriminating against or firing workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I am happy to welcome Rep. Grimm as the 200th cosponsor of the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” Polis said. “This is common sense legislation that is supported by a majority of Americans and was passed overwhelmingly by the United States Senate. I look forward to working with Rep. Grimm and all of the co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle to pass this bill and protect all Americans from discrimination in the work place.”

Grimm’s office didn’t immediately respond to the Blade’s request for comment on his decision to sign on as an ENDA supporter.

Counting Polis, Grimm’s support brings the total number of sponsors in the House to 201. A total of 218 votes is necessary to pass legislation in the chamber.

Grimm is the sixth Republican co-sponsor of ENDA. The other five are Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Charles Dent (R-Pa.), Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) and Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.).

Elected during the Republican wave in 2010, Grimm is generally looked upon as having an unfavorable record on LGBT issues. The Human Rights Campaign gave him a rating of “0” in its latest congressional scorecard.

A former FBI agent who served in the 1990s Persian Gulf War as a Marine, Grimm is an opponent of same-sex marriage. He expressed his opposition in 2011 when the New York Legislature was preparing to legalize gay nuptials.

“I believe, by definition, that marriage is between a man and a woman, just as President Clinton did in 1996 when he signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law, defining it as such,” Grimm said.

Still, beyond his decision to back ENDA, he’s a co-sponsor of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, legislation that would require schools to develop to policies against bullying, including the discrimination and harassment of LGBT students.

Christian Berle, legislative director for Freedom to Work, said Grimm’s co-sponsorship of ENDA reflects growing Republican support for the legislation.

“We applaud Congressman Grimm for joining the growing number of Republicans supporting LGBT workplace protections, Freedom to Work along with Log Cabin Republicans have been lobbying broadly within the House GOP Conference and we hope to build momentum with more ENDA supporters in the weeks and months to come,” Berle said.

But Grimm signs on as a co-sponsor to ENDA as he’s facing additional challenges and is being investigated for possible corruption.

The House Ethics Committee is deferring an investigation into Grimm for possible campaign finance violations to the Justice Department, which is conducting a criminal probe. The New York Daily News reported earlier this month Grimm may have used “donor swapping” to skirt fundraising limits. Grimm made headlines this week after he threatened a reporter who was about to ask him about the corruption probe. The incident was caught on video in which Grimm told a NY1 reporter that he would throw him from a balcony and break him in half.

The Senate last year passed ENDA on a bipartisan basis by a 64-34 vote. Supporters have said the legislation already has the votes to pass the House, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has continually said he opposes the legislation when asked if he’ll bring it up for a vote.

Polis has previously said the best way to encourage Boehner to bring ENDA to a vote is adding additional Republican co-sponsors to the bill. Boehner’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Grimm’s sponsorship changes things in terms of a possible House vote.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. An H. Nguyen

    January 28, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    The Bill’s supporters ought to resort to the employment of “Discharge Petition” to bring it out for a House vote, then. Time is running out for the session already.

  2. Rasheed Kalifani Knowles

    January 30, 2014 at 4:11 am

    Hmm…another facet? Or damn good lobbying?

  3. Rasheed Kalifani Knowles

    January 30, 2014 at 4:11 am

    Hmm…another facet? Or damn good lobbying?

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Politics

Victory Fund honors Maine House speaker at D.C. conference

Ryan Fecteau is gay Catholic University alum

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Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau accepts the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award at the Victory Fund International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C. on Dec. 4, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Victory Fund on Saturday honored Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau on the last day of its International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in D.C.

Fecteau — an openly gay Catholic University of America alum — won a seat in the Maine House of Representatives in 2014. He became the chamber’s speaker in 2018.

“Hate and intolerance will not derail us,” said Fecteau after Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith presented him with the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award, which is named after U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). “Our community will not be intimidated.”

The Victory Fund on Friday honored Guatemalan Congressman Aldo Dávila, a gay man who is living with HIV.

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Victory Fund honors gay Guatemalan congressman at D.C. conference

Aldo Dávila a vocal critic of country’s government

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Guatemalan Congressman Aldo Dávila speaks at the 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference after he received the Global Trailblazer Award. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Victory Fund on Friday honored an openly gay Guatemalan congressman who has faced death threats because of his efforts to fight corruption in his country.

Dávila — a member of the Winaq movement, a leftist party founded by Rigoberta Menchú, an indigenous human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner — in 2019 became the first openly gay man elected to Guatemala’s congress. Dávila, who also lives with HIV, had previously been the executive director of Asociación Gente Positiva, a Guatemala City-based HIV/AIDS service organization.

Supporters of President Alejandro Giammattei have lodged several formal complaints against Dávila after he publicly criticized the government over corruption, its response to the pandemic and other issues.

Three men on April 19 approached Dávila’s vehicle near Guatemala’s National Library and tried to rob him. One of Dávila’s bodyguards shot one of the men, but the two other assailants fled the scene before police officers and passersby arrived.

Dávila told the Washington Blade in September during an interview at a Guatemala City hotel that he and his partner installed cameras in their apartment after someone killed their dog.

Two female police officers who arrived at the hotel with Dávila sat in the lobby while he spoke with the Blade. The government a few weeks later reduced his security detail.

“Guatemala is living through the worst democratic crisis in the last 40 years,” said Dávila after he accepted the Victory Fund’s Global Trailblazer Award at its 2021 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference that is taking place in-person at the JW Marriott in downtown D.C. “Guatemala right now is being paralyzed by corruption and impunity and my voice is uncomfortable because of this.”

Dávila became emotional at the end of his remarks.

“I will keep fighting for our rights,” he said.

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Comings & Goings

Nathanson takes role at Outright Action

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Rikki Nathanson

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. 

Congratulations to Rikki Nathanson on her new position as Senior Advisor – Global Trans Program with OutRight Action International in New York. Nathanson will be based in D.C.  

 “I am absolutely thrilled to be taking on this new role as Senior Advisor in OutRight’s Global Trans Program,” said Nathanson. “I have finally found the perfect fit for me: as a trans woman who has been fighting for equality not only for myself, but for others globally, this position is not only a job, it’s intrinsically part of who I am. So, what better way to live, nurture and grow myself.” 

Nathanson will be working closely with all program staff to ensure a cohesive and intentional approach to gender issues throughout OutRight’s programs, including its approach to gender ideology movements. She will lead new initiatives on gender advocacy and policy change, focused but not limited to legal gender recognition and anti-discrimination legislation and policies.

Prior to this Nathanson was director of housing programs at Casa Ruby in D.C. She has also held a number of other positions including: founder/executive director of Trans Research, Education, Advocacy & Training (TREAT), Zimbabwe; chairperson Southern Africa Trans Forum, SATF, Cape Town, South Africa; executive director, Ricochet Modeling Agency, Zimbabwe; and company secretary for Dunlop Zimbabwe Limited, Zimbabwe. 

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