Donna Pandori

HRC meeting with Indiana 2nd district Congressman Donnelly

Filed By Donna Pandori | December 06, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, Politics

Since November Adrian Matanza, an HRC organizer, has been Hitting the Road In Indiana working to build support for an inclusive ENDA. This effort is coming to South Bend, Indiana Monday December 7th when Mr. Matanza and constituents from the 2nd Congressional District will meet with Congressman Joe Donnelly's office. donnelly.jpg

Although Donnelly supported the 2007 ENDA it is not clear if he will support an improved 2009 ENDA which is explicitly inclusive of transgender people. Donnelly's constituents will present reasons on Monday why his support for this is needed in their district.

In November I contacted Congressman Donnelly and urged him to sign on as a co-sponsor to ENDA. His response after the jump.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). I value your views, and your input helps me to better represent the people of Indiana's Second District in Congress.

As you may know, Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts introduced H.R. 3685, ENDA on September 27, 2007,.

Actually Barney Frank re-introduced ENDA on June 24th, 2009, a fully inclusive ENDA.

This legislation would prohibit employment discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation. However, small businesses with fewer than 15 employees, the armed services and religious organizations would be exempt from complying with this law. In fact, religious organizations are granted broad protection under this bill. The language used to form the exemption for religious organizations in H.R. 3685 is identical to the religious exemption language found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Over the years the Supreme Court has used this language time and again to rule in favor of the rights of religious organizations and institutions to hire or terminate employees following their convictions.

This bill would have ensured that workplace discrimination will not be allowed, while providing religious organizations their traditional protections to exercise their views freely without government interference. I believe employees should be judged based on the quality of their work performance and not on their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

With this in mind, I voted in favor of H.R. 3685, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 235 to 184. However, the 110th Congress adjourned before taking further action on this legislation. If similar legislation reaches the floor of the House of Representatives during the 111th Congress, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind.

Additionally, during consideration of the bill, there were two votes to defend traditional marriage. The first was an amendment introduced by fellow Indiana Congressman Mark Souder to remove a section of H.R. 3685 that would have prohibited employers from conditioning employment on a person's marital status. Congressman Souder's amendment passed with my support by a vote of 325 to 101. The second amendment was introduced by Congressman J. Randy Forbes of Virginia. This amendment would have ensured that nothing in H.R. 3685 could have been interpreted to effect or overturn any state or federal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Despite my support, the amendment failed by a vote of 198 to 222. I voted in favor of both of these amendments because I personally believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Although I disagree with Donnelly's "beliefs", ENDA has absolutely nothing to do with marriage. The amendments introduced by Congressman Souder (R - Indiana 3rd district) and Forbes of Virginia were divisive political tactics that turned the debate into a discussion about personal religious beliefs. Passage of ENDA will not do anything to change marriage especially in the state of Indiana where same-sex marriage is banned.

As Donnelly points out, employees should be solely "judged based on the quality of their work performance". The legislation at hand is employment non-discrimination and he needs to represent his constituents whom in Indiana can be fired because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Contact Congressman Donnelly, (202) 225-3915, and urge him to support ENDA.

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