April 6, 2017 at 5:14 pm EDT | by Malcolm Lazin
Will GOP deliver LGBT workplace protections?
Paul Ryan, gay news, Washington Blade, Equality Act

House Speaker Paul Ryan voted for ENDA in 2007. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Since 1994, lobbyists in Washington have unsuccessfully tried to pass ENDA, a bill protecting at first lesbians and gays and then LGBT Americans in the workplace. Even in 2009 and 2010, with Democrats in control of the White House and Congress, ENDA was not enacted.

Ironically, workplace protection could be achieved under a Republican-controlled Washington. It will not be the Equality Act, which provides unqualified LGBT equality in the workplace. The bill was endorsed by Hillary Clinton. For Republicans that endorsement and lack of a religious exemption makes it unsupportable.

The best chance for LGBT workplace protection is championed by the national Log Cabin Republicans, which has relationships with the White House and Congress. Log Cabin is lobbying for a bill, which includes both transgender protection and a religious exemption.

The passage of that bill is realistic. In 2007, the House of Representatives by a vote of 235 to 184, passed ENDA with among other Republican supporters Congressman Paul Ryan, who is now the Speaker of the House. In 2013, ENDA passed the Senate with bipartisan support including from Rob Portman (R-Ohio), whose son is gay.

While Trump has vacated executive orders, he has left in place Obama executive orders that protect transgender federal government employees and that require federal government contractors to provide LGBT Americans with workplace protections. There is ample reason to believe that he would sign the Log Cabin bill, if passed by Congress.

There are those who argue that the religious exemption is abhorrent. I concur and have publicly stated that opposition. Nonetheless, having President Trump sign the Log Cabin Republicans LGBT workplace bill sends a powerful signal to his base that LGBT Americans should be protected. After failed efforts over the past 23 years, it achieves 3/4 of a loaf.

The other major advantage is the courts. Much of our success has come through GLAD, ACLU and Lambda Legal including gays in the military, repeal of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and marriage equality.

If the Log Cabin bill is enacted, it will be for the federal courts to determine whether the so-called religious exemption violates the Constitution. With Lawrence v. Texas, Windsor v. U.S. and Obergefell v. Hodges, among others precedents, there is considerable case law to achieve through the courts the full loaf, workplace equality for LGBT Americans.

The community is well served by the Log Cabin Republicans. They deserve our strategic support.

Malcolm Lazin is executive director of Equality Forum and LGBT History Month.

  • More fake news in support of the ineffectual Log Cabin Republicans. Mr. Lazin acts as though he just stumbled across a group of gay republicans who promote LGBT “light” rights when he himself has been a member and long-time promoter. Clearly he’s been well-served by LCR, the rest of “gay-kind” not so much.

  • Like the traitorous Democrat Governor of North Carolina, Republican Malcolm Lazin sees human rights as divisible and something on which we can compromise. This is not a tax bill or a trade bill where we can bargain. It is a civil rights bill that must confer equal rights or else if codifies allowable discrimination. No deal!

  • Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    That’s the only response this idiocy merits.

  • Oh great, another let’s compromise on full equality and beg for crumbs. There is equality and there is bigotry. They don’t go together no matter what the ratio of one to the other.

  • I presume Mr. Lazin would be equally happy with a religious exemption in the Civil Rights Act that allows citizens to discriminate against others on the basis of race, or indeed religion, simply by citing so-called religious objections?

    The goal should be full inclusion in the Civil Rights Act for both sexual orientation and gender identity. NO LESS.

  • ENDA was last derailed in Congress because the Religious Exemptions were considered too much by activists. Why would it be any different now? Trump hasn’t ever said he would endorse such a law and his religious right-wing base would rally against it even with religious exemptions.

    I recall, when John Boehner was head of the House, he wouldn’t even allow the legislation to move forward for a hearing let alone a fair up and down vote stating that it was not necessary!

    Is this some kind of publicity stunt by LCR or a joke? The dysfunctional GOP is unable to chew gum and walk at the same time!

    The courts are likely the only hope!

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