Boehner announces opposition to ENDA

The speaker's statement calls into question whether the bill will even get a vote in the House

By Elias Isquith

Published November 4, 2013 7:05PM (EST)

John Boehner                                   (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
John Boehner (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

Speaker of the House John Boehner has announced his opposition to the Employee Non-Discrimination Act according to a report in the Huffington Post.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said on Monday that ENDA would "increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs." In a follow-up comment, a Boehner aide told the Huffington Post that the speaker's position was "not news" — he voted against ENDA in 2007 — and that the protections afforded by the bill are already "covered by existing law."

While 21 states have laws on the books to protect LGBTQ people against workplace discrimination, 29 states do not. Public polling on ENDA consistently shows a large majority of Americans approve of it.

Nevertheless, the bill is opposed by social conservatives. Heritage Action, an influential conservative activist organization, has made opposition to ENDA one of its "key" votes, arguing that the law would "severely undermine civil liberties, increase government interference in the labor market, and trample on religious liberty."

More from the Huffington Post:

A vote on the legislation is coming Monday in the Senate, and there is growing optimism that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be able to bypass a filibuster attempt. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) announced on Monday that he would back ENDA, making him the 60th member to announce support for it.

But even if the bill were to make it through that chamber, it would require passage in the House. And with Boehner coming out in opposition, it seems unlikely that it would even get a vote.

Boehner had previously side-stepped questions about the legislation, suggesting that new statutes were unnecessary in light of the growing cultural acceptance of gays and lesbians. Even so, top business leaders have begun pushing for the bill's passage. And in July 2013, the Government Accountability Office issued a report concluding that in states with LGBT workplace protections, "there were relatively few employment discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation and gender identity filed."

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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