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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 11 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 15
Seventh Republican backs ENDA - Americans for Workplace Opportunity working on more, including Washington Congressman Dave Reichert
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Seventh Republican backs ENDA - Americans for Workplace Opportunity working on more, including Washington Congressman Dave Reichert

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) became the seventh Republican Congressman to sign on to ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) on April 10.

'I see this legislation as the workplace equivalent of the Golden Rule - do unto others, as you would have them do unto you,' Coffman said in a statement to Politico blog. 'In the workplace, in 2014, we should judge employees the way we would want to be judged - based on our qualifications, our contributions and by our character, period.'

The bill, which would add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to federal anti-discrimination laws, now has 203 co-sponsors, of whom only seven are Republicans. ENDA was passed by the Senate last year, but House Speaker John Boehner has vowed not to bring the measure to the floor for a vote.

According to Politico, Coffman has reversed positions on immigration, abortion, and LGBT rights, as he tries to fend off an electoral challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in Colorado's competitive sixth district.

A coalition called Americans for Workplace Opportunity is lining up Republican Congressmen, in hopes of bringing ENDA to a vote before the end of the year.

'We really see this as an important piece of unfinished business for LGBT workers and people around the country,' said campaign manager Campbell Spencer.

HRC has contributed $1.36 million to the campaign while Republican billionaires Paul Singer and Seth Klarman have each put up $375,000 to pay for the effort. Spencer said that another major donor is expected to be announced in the near term.

Other organizations involved in the group include Log Cabin Republicans, AFSCME, ACLU, and SEIU.

According to Spencer the group has identified seven additional Republican Congressmen, including Washington Congressman Dave Reichert, as priority targets to convince them to support ENDA.

The group has more than 30 field organizers on the ground in seven states and has hired eight Republican-leaning public affairs firms. Over the past month, the campaign claims 1,000 calls to members' district offices, sent post cards, and held several district meetings.

In the coming weeks they plan to hold more than 100 volunteer events, including 56 canvassing events, 43 phone banks, and 14 community meetings in priority districts.

Besides Reichert, the group includes Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (FL), Mike Fitzpatrick (PA), Jim Gerlach (PA), Joe Heck (NV), Leonard Lance (NJ), and Frank LoBiondo (NJ). Democratic Representative Dan Lipinski (IL) will also be a priority.

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