Massachusetts Representative Barney
Frank expects a bill that would make employment discrimination on
the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity illegal to reach
the House floor next month.
Frank, the nation's most powerful
openly gay elected official and the House sponsor of the bill, made
his remarks in an interview with gay weekly DC
A November postponement of a final
committee markup on the House version of the Employment
Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) left activists lobbying for its passage
anxious over the bill's future. At the time, a spokesperson for the
committee said lawmakers were working on “legal and technical”
issues, but added that the markup was still expected to take place
before the end of the year.
“We were very close just before we
snowed out to basically come to an agreement on a bill that would get
a majority vote in the Education & Labor Committee,” Frank
“The speaker has promised me that as
soon as it passes the committee, she'll bring it up to the floor of
the House [for a vote],” he added.
Frank predicted the bill would clear
the committee next week and reach the House floor next month.
Passage in the Democrat-controlled
House, where the bill has attracted 197 co-sponsors, is almost
certain. Less certain, however, are its prospects in the Senate.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is the sponsor of the bill's Senate
The bill's included transgender
protections appear to be a sticking point among committee members.
“There has always been a problem with
the question of people who are transgender in situations where people
are totally or partially unclothed,” Frank said.
Previously, Frank successfully
sponsored a House version of ENDA that did not include transgender
protections, but the effort fizzled in the Senate.
Opponents of the bill say the
legislation impinges on religious freedoms.
“This bill will mean that employers
will be forced to make employment decisions against their religious
beliefs,” Ashley Home, federal policy analyst for the
Christian-based group Focus on the Family, told Citizen Link.