Here's a liveblog of the debate (now reads from top to bottom):
Some background on the Employment Non-discrimination Act.
[start of debate - i missed a few minutes at the beginning]
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) from CA, gives a powerful speech, saying “we should not allow discrimination against anyone, based on gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, age…this is
Doc Hasting yields himself 15 seconds. I think.
Barney Frank says he wishes it were possible to include trans people - "I also wish it were possible to eat a lot and not gain weight..."
Ginny Brown-Waite (R) is upset about unclear wording in ENDA (she was a former small-business owner!) "Wide-ranging and serious consequences" from "ill-conceived, vague" language that is a "gold ticket for
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is pretty much the shit. He was a "proud sponsor of the original ENDA" and says that failing to include trans people in the beginning leads it to be more difficult to add them later (he uses New York as an example). "We cannot pass this legislation into law and protect anyone this year, unfortunately." "When we can enact an ENDA bill into law, that protects *all* Americans." Trans people more likely to face employment protection, and face "irrational discrimination." Also mentions that GLB people might be negatively affected by ENDA without gender identity protections. Currently, he says, we have an "Unfair, unacceptable and un-American situation."
Mark Souder (R-Indiana) says that the House has been shutting down debate and lots of the amendments he's offered. This is totally unfair. "How in the world are you going to define "perceived"? He wants to know about "perceived" "homosexual lifestyle." It's "legal nightmare"!!!! "And we can't even vote despite the word perceived!!" He also wanted to provide some protection for "Christians who have strong views in the workplace." People might be forced to participate in gay and lesbian Pride week! Christians will be "persecuted" for expressing their views! More stuff about how religious universities will lose all their exemptions. And private religious schools! And orphanages with the
Rep Souder wants two additional minutes. Now he's talking about marriage. I think. Doesn't want to talk about Baldwin Amendment and not be able to vote on it. It's an "in your face tactic." "Not have a vote on transgender." He is concerned about the "abominable" rule. And the "transvestites."
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Florida) tries to calmly explain religious exemption rules to Souder. She tries to explain that "for the betterment and advancement of our society as a whole," ENDA could make sure "Americans are treated fairly," but that, believe it or not, people can still hold "contrary beliefs, religious or otherwise."
Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is adorable. He thinks everyone should have equal rights. "None of us can know unless we've walked in another's shoes." He wants us to imagine how we can "separate those people from the claims of justice, the claims of constitutional protection." "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are something that everyone should have access to."
He notes his time has expired. Crazy Doc yields him 30 seconds, but then reclaims it and interrupts Kucinich. Kucinich would vote for the Baldwin Amendment.
Paul Broun (R-Georgia) recognizes a totalitarian regime when he sees one. Seriously. He's only been in the House for three months, but he knows what's going on. He got less than 24 hours notice that the "discriminatory bill" would be on the floor.
Rush Holt was a co-sponsor of the original bill. And
Rep Anthony Weiner is definitely from
Rob Andrews from
Doc is really aggravated now. He yields himself 30 seconds. Things shouldn't be covered up. He yields.
Andrews explains about how we have majority votes for this reason.
Doc is worried that this is so unprecedented and reserves his time.
Doc moves to adjourn. People vote no.
Doc asks for a "ye" and "nay" vote. Members must record votes by electronic devices. This will take 15 minutes. CSPAN starts playing interviews from Capitol Hill reporters about ENDA. I'll try to go back and fix my spelling. Back in 15.
[15 min break during which CSPAN interviews various reporters and stuff.]
Nothing has happened yet. CSPAN is playing interviews with random people in
OK, Doc is back. The House is not in order. People need to stop talking and milling around. Come on now, people, we're on national television.
The gentlewoman from
Doc finds this bill "ironic." Yet the very rule that we are debating is discriminatory, because it won't treat all three amendments equal. He urges his colleagues...MR. SPEAKER THE HOUSE IS NOT IN ORDER!!
The Speaker quiets everyone down. Doc wants people to vote on amendment #3 (the Baldwin Amendment). The Speaker tells everyone to quiet down again.
Doc keeps saying that we are denying Americans a right to vote on the transgender provision. Somehow I don't think he cares all that much about trans non-discrimination, but that might just be me.
Kathy Castor looks sad. She says we have a "bipartisan legislation" as part of "another important step towards equality for all Americans." She says that civil rights progress has been slow, but steady.
House is still not in order. Will members take their conversations off the floor.
Job hiring and firing should be based on qualifications, Castor says. On this "proud day," Congress will "chart a new direction for civil rights." The Speaker is pissed. Will members PLEASE give the lady their attention.
Castor urges her colleagues to vote yes on this "landmark civil rights act" and moves the previous question on the resolution. The no's have it. She requests a recorded vote. A sufficient number haven risen, they will record their votes electronically.
[Voting on procedural motion: 5 minutes or so]
And, we're back. The ayes have it.
Doc asks for ye and nay.
Members will record by electronic vote. Another 5 minute delay. Maybe I will actually get some work done today after all.
[Another 5 minute delay]
OK, I think we're back. What's going on? Lots of milling around. Mr. Jefferson votes aye. Someone from
Mr. Hastard votes no. On this votes ayes: 218, no: 205.
More milling around.
Some dude with a mustache asks for 5 days to review the bill. What?
HR 3685: A clerk reads the title. OK, a woman is in charge now. She has a blue suit. She wants everyone to shut up now. And remove themselves from the floor.
There will be more debate, controlled by various representatives from
Rep George Miller (D-CA) says it's not OK to discriminate - "it has no place is American society." This legislation was first introduced in 1985. He regrets we have had to wait so long for this vote, and a historic day has arrived. "Employment decisions based on merit." In 30 states, employers can fire, refuse to hire, promote and demote on the basis of sexual orientation alone. They heard testimony from Michael Carney in the past. He was from MA and got fired from being a policeman. He had rights because he was gay in MA. Trans people in MA don't have rights. BTW. Give money to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition! Anyway. It's essential that this Congress protect people.
The bill does not apply to businesses with less than 15 workers, private clubs, religious organizations or the Armed Forces, which can discriminate at will. Proceed.
Buck Mckeon (R-CA) says this bill has troublesome, exclusive language. He doesn't like this "new protected class" that is "vague" and will "cause problems in the workplace" and result in "costly litigation." He really doesn't like "perceived" sexual orientation language. New pressures on employers! Employers might have to DOCUMENT their employee's sexual orientation to protect against discrimination. That is HIGHLY inappropriate! It will increase litigation. And uncertainty. Also it encroaches on freedom of religion. And marriage.
This bill is a "sweeping departure" from civil rights laws in the past. And how will this align with policies in states that discriminate against gays? That's a problem.
Rep. Rob Andrews says this is a chance to vote against discrimination. He would like to address the questions from his friend from CA. He notes that there is nothing "burdensome" about not being allowed to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation, any more than for not discriminating based on race, religion or nationality. He also does not think there are any "highly subjective" measures, especially since this is the same concept we've had since the Americans with Disabilities Act. He wants us to understand that harassment based on perceived disability was an important legal case in the past (btw, Michael Mukasey, the nominee for Attorney General was involved in that). So anyway, the gentleman from CA needs to simmer down. And stop saying this is "radical." Finally, he doesn't think this "sweeping departure from civil rights law" business is accurate. He says that it means including "millions of Americans" who should have been included a long time ago.
Rep. John Kline (R-Minnesota) says this bill creates confusion and uncertainty. No one paid attention to the amendments his friends offered. This "perceived" sexual orientation?!!! What does that mean? WE DO NOT KNOW. This raises many concerns. He is concerned about "LOTS" of increased litigation. Scary, scary litigation. "This is, frankly, a trial lawyer's dream."
John Kline does not want to visit the theme park of the Attorney World. Yes, seriously.
Employers would have to prove a negative!
"Perceived" is unprecedented. John Kline says that his opponents are motivated only by the end goals of the legislation. We are left with confusion and uncertainty. This has inherent problems.
Barney Frank is up. Get ready.
Barney Frank is grateful for the obscurity of the opposition's arguments. People used to say they hated gays, now it is "no longer fashionable." He does not think that the Republicans would suddenly support the amendment if they got rid of "perceived." He thinks they are wrong, legally and factually. The complainant has the burden of proof and stuff.
19 states have laws like this on the books! Barney Frank says this is a "made-up issue, by people who don't want to confront the real issue." There are gay and lesbian people who live in fear that they might be fired.
He says "perceived" a lot of times. Alito and Muskasey have enforced this. Are they radicals?
Barney Frank says that the "radical homosexual agenda" is about "having a job." Stop the semantics!
Mark Souder is talking about the Christian bookstores again. 85% of them would be affected! Oh God. Also, he is not a supporter of "sexual rights." He has never hidden that he opposed this amendment.
Souder is talking about a campaign advertisement that was a smear campaign that talked about Mark Foley and "unnatural sex with minors"! I really am not sure where this is going. But he's mad! The Republicans are not intolerant! They didn't make "cookie-cutter" ads about unnatural sex acts!
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) is repping her state. She's all like, yeah back in the day when I was an HR person, WE protected people! And that was in the 70s! C'mon now. She is concerned that transgendered people are particularly subject to workplace discrimination. CA already provides gender identity protection. We did that because trans people deserve protection. "Today's bill is not perfect." She wants you to know that she will "keep up the fight to expand protection to all people."
Jim Jordan (
"Sexual rights" or "religious rights"? This would totally hurt businesses. Employers will have to ignore their personal convictions and hire people they don't want to! This would also UNDERMINE THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE. This "ultimately determines the strength of our entire society." "The reason
Deb Pryce is a Republican from
Sorry, I got a phone call. Back. Now some Republican dude is mad about this "new protected class." He has a comb-over. Ah, his name is Tim Walberg, from
Rep Sanford Bishop (D) from
A Texan. Rep. Louie Gohmert says we can "expect more litigation against the Boy Scouts." This is a "can of worms." "It invites people to come apply for a job, and then make utterances like 'you think I'm gay!'" I'm surprised more lawyers aren't salivating right outside the House, with all the money they'd be making. No, really, I don't even know what Louie is talking about anymore. Something about attorney's fees.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) thinks that ENDA can strengthen the character of our democracy.
Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pennsylvania) says that ENDA will force states to impose "marriage or civil unions" on people. This is already happening! Look at
George Miller from CA says that Pitts made some interesting statements that had nothing to do with the legislation.
Keith Ellison is ready to redeem
Rep Roy Blunt is a Minority Whip. And that's not kinky. He's from
Mike Pence from
The Democrat from
Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) just said "gaydar." She would like the future schoolchildren to know she STOOD UP against the "last vestige of discrimination."
Souder submits a letter from Andrew Sullivan, Editor of the
I am getting tired of Souder, so I'll eat a cupcake til he's done talking.
OK, George Miller just yielded himself 30 seconds. He says we have a bill that is "far more acceptable to far more people."
Susan Davis from CA says she wishes this ENDA was inclusive of transgender people: "employment discrimination strikes at a fundamental American value... transgender people are among the most vulnerable in the GLBT community." She talks about a friend, Vicky Estrada, who was trans, and expresses her support for a more inclusive ENDA.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) thinks "fairness, justice and equality under law" is a good thing. He says we are taking a "momentous step." He says it could be anyone - Jews, Baptists, African-Americans. The whole idea is that we don't discriminate against anybody. "In this just nation, we believe in equal opportunity." He hopes that none of his colleagues find themselves in the position of having to say, "I am historically sorry," the way some people did after not voting for the Civil Rights Act. Think about it. Will we choose to "stand on the right side of history"? "Yes, you may be different than we are, but you are entitled by our Constitution, our God and our values to the same rights that we are." He was the landmark sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We need to say "that it is not lawful in the
James Moran from Virginia (D) says people come here from all over the world to contribute to the economy. People can't control their sexual orientation. Let's judge them on their ability to contribute. C'mon now. Also, he would have favored the Baldwin Amendment, but this is a civil rights struggle, and that takes time. So, he urges everyone to vote for ENDA.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.Carolina) was a civil rights activist and was even incarcerated a number of times. He has cherished the institution of marriage for 46 years. He urges his colleagues to vote for ENDA.
Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Illinois) says that the
Rep Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) has a great speaking voice. He also looks very wise. "Make this country live up to all the creeds that are our values, American values." On discrimination: "It is wrong, it is intolerant, it is un-American." Wow, everything he says sounds amazing. They should have him do all the speaking here.
Rep. John Lewis ALSO has a great speaking voice. He is standing up for his "gay and lesbian brothers and sisters." "Call it what you may, to discriminate against someone because they are gay - it is wrong, it is wrong, it is not right." "IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO, IT IS THE MORAL THING TO DO, LET US DO IT." He doesn't even need a microphone. "The time is always right to do what is right. Let us pass this bill." He's pretty great.
Some Republican with a *really* ugly red tie is talking about the vagueness of the bill. And Bibles in the workplace. Oh, and his lapel pin is ugly too. I'm tuning him out until further notice. Oh, it was John Kline.
Nancy Pelosi is up. We must be nearing the end. She says that "discrimination has no place in
Pelosi says she "shares the disappointment of Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank and others" that gender identity is not included "but I support the passage of ENDA because it advances the rights..." We cannot afford to "squander talent" in
She says that civil rights advancement is not easy, and is "often marked by small and difficult steps." She says it's not just that her district (
OK, now it's time for people to offer amendments. Gavel.
George Miller yields himself 4 minutes. He offers up an amendment that clarifies that ENDA matches the religious exemption in the 1964 Civil Rights Amendment, and also would use the DOMA definition of marriage. This "issue has been a cause of a lot of confusion in the past weeks." Bleh. Sometimes about Christian colleges and universities. Section 702-A of Title 7 or arguably broader section of 703-E. What. He yields himself a few extra seconds and then yields to his co-sponsor, Bart Stupak.
Bart wants us to know that this amendment will make sure the government does not "unconstitutionally infringe on religious practice." He lists a bunch of people who support his amendment: Orthodox Jews, Seventh Day Adventists...etc. He wants us to know that marriage is between a man and woman. "No American should have to face discrimination...however, religious organizations should be able to hire individuals who reflect their religious beliefs." And ENDA better not be used to undercut the Defense of Marriage Act!
Confusion over who has the right to close. "The gentleman from
Some Republican with a square head yields himself such time as he will consume. He says that this amendment is "futile" and faith-based institutions are being stripped of their protections. I think I'll eat an apple til he's done.
Gentleman Mr. Brown from
Souder is back. Unless he says something new, I'll be back in two and a half minutes.
Christian bookstores AGAIN.
Rep. Rob Andrews supports the amendment. Says it fairly addresses concerns. He got a letter from a president of a Christian college. He tells his colleagues to read page 8, captioned "NO preferential treatment." This means that ENDA would not allow preferential treatment. It is, he notes, "helpful to read the bill." You can also read sub-section C, which would use the DOMA definition of marriage. So this means your concerns are being met, Souder. Sit down.
Buck McKeon (R-CA) feels bad that people are "offended." He says that we "don't end discrimination by passing laws." We do that by "changing hearts and minds." He will support the religion amendment.
Amendment 1 passes.
Souder is offering an amendment. I might tune out.
He yields himself 3 minutes. His amendment strikes paragraph 3 of 8-A. I'm guessing that means that religious people can discriminate more and gays can't get married. Or something.
POLYGAMY! Somehow, I knew we would get there eventually. Also adultery.
Section 883. This is about state's definitions of marriage.
Rep. George Miller wants to remind everyone that ENDA is actually about employment non-discrimination and that this amendment is sort of unnecessary. But he'll vote on it, whatevs.
Souder repeats himself for about two minutes.
Barney Frank says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Souder's amendment is "made-up."
Sheila Jackson Lee is from
Amendment 2 passes
"Today, ENDA seeks to extend the law...and my amendment would also include gender identity. We have worked steadily to rid our nation of irrational hatred and fear...that often results in discrimination, housing, employment and public accommodations." She lists states and municipalities and businesses with GLBT protections and policies. "It is time for Congress to catch up to our communities and American businesses. Today we can strengthen our laws against discrimination in our workplace...Few understand how a person's body might not match their internal sense of gender. This is not a new phenomenon. It is not a fad. and it is certainly not a reason to lose one's job. Some have asked why it is important to includes transgender protection...this community shares a history...a history of suffering discrimination and too often of violence...just for being who they are." "Symbolically, [these laws] say in
Souder sounds like a tool. I think we know why. He says "transvestites" a few times and looks nervous. This amendment is a "political ploy." OK, I sort of agree that: "the majority is trying to avoid embarrassment...shield their members from having a difficult vote...so they can go out and tell the transgendered community: "Oh, we tried"...not where they really stand." Fair 'nough.
Did I mention I love Tammy Baldwin?
Souder says that this is a conspiracy against "those of us who don't approve of the lifestyle."
Tammy Baldwin kind of ignores him. She says that a rollcall vote would fall short of adoption, however. She says: "I believe those who will be left behind by this bill deserve to hear, on this House floor, that you have not been forgotten...until you are part of this American Dream...I will do everything within my power to make this measure whole again." Applause for the first time all evening.
Tammy Baldwin withdraws her amendment.
Some procedural stuff going on. Inquiries. Recorded votes requested. Etc.
[15 minute electronic vote on the amendments. CSPAN plays interviews with French ambassadors.]
Hey, if you're reading this, leave me a comment! What are you thoughts? Feelings? What else do you want to know? Ideas why Souder is so ornery?
Recorded votes are being taken for amendment 2. This is a 5 minute vote. Oh, and ps. I figured out what the Souder amendment was about - employment conditioned on someone's marital status. Anyway, back in 5.
Question on adoption of the amendments: they are adopted.
"I cannot hear anything." House must come to order.
"We have a long evening ahead of us." Uh oh.
These politicians sure are rowdy. "Take your conversations off the floor." Gavel. Gavel. Gavel.
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) is worried about the "activist courts." ENDA will lead to legalized "gay marriage" everywhere. He wants to make sure that this bill does not "become the building block...to destroy the institution of marriage." He has a picture of the Declaration of Independence on his wall. People need to stop trying to tear down our institutions and chip away at our ideals. "Marriage between a man and woman...is under attack from all sides."
Barney Frank wants us all to go to dinner. Oh nevermind, let's do this promptly.
Barney Frank takes this personally. 19 states have such a law! "I used to be someone subject to this prejudice...I got to be a big-shot. I'm now above this prejudice, but now I feel an obligation....those worried they will lose their job in a gas station if someone finds out who they love." I think he's choked up. He thinks that this is "a ploy by people who want to keep discrimination on the books."
Barney is yelling! He wants the gentleman to yield so that we can add the language and move along. "There are people who are your fellow citizens who are being discriminated against. We have a simple bill that says you can go to work and not be penalized. Please don't turn your back on them." Applause.
[OK, this is a 15 minute procedural vote on whether to send this bill back to committee. Stay tuned. And leave me comments!]
Oh shit! They are now about to vote on the FINAL PASSAGE of the bill!
[5 minute vote now]
BILL IS PASSED
ENDA passed: 235 to 184 and without gender identity protections.