The passing of Senator Kennedy is a sad day for the nation. It is also a sad day for ENDA, and for all progressive legislation, such as health care reform.
The Massachusetts law does not allow the appointment of a replacement for Senator Kennedy. Instead, the law calls for the seat to remain vacant until a special election is held 5 months from now. However, 60 votes will still be needed to overcome the likely Republican filibuster.
Instead of 47 confirmed yes votes in the Senate in support of ENDA, we now have 46. Instead of 58 likely votes in support of ENDA, we now have 57. I remind you that ENDA failed in 1996 by a single vote. The votes of South Dakota are now more important than ever.
There are some indications that the Massachusetts legislature might change the law to allow appointment of a successor, but as of now, we have lost not only a revered Senator but also a vote.
In spite of the sadness we feel as a result of Senator Kennedy's passing, we must renew our efforts to talk to our Senators about the importance of job equality, for which Senator Kennedy stood so firmly. Senators who we might have, in the past, ignored because their votes seemed unlikely, must no longer be ignored.
On this note, South Dakota is another state where there is one Senator who is more likely than the other to vote for ENDA. Your phone calls can make the difference.
Contact info and more after the jump.