ENDA Timeline: Broken Promises

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010   Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter

This timeline is intended to give a sense of the history and back-story behind the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). It pulls from many different sources, and highlights the promises made and broken by elected officials to pass ENDA into law. We have pulled out specific broken promises from several particular elected officials, but what is difficult to identify in a timeline such as this are opportunities for leadership that were missed — which is why pressure must continue to be applied to those who have the opportunity to take courageous action.
The timeline includes a handful of ENDA-focused GetEQUAL actions in order to contextualize our work, but the work of many other organizations can be reviewed via links at the bottom of this timeline.


March 14, 1974 — On the fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY) and Rep. Ed Koch (D-NY) introduce H.R. 14752, dubbed the “gay rights bill” or “Equality Act of 1974,” but it fails to make it out of committee. It proposes that new categories of sex, sexual orientation and marital status be added to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Abzug’s version bars anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations and housing, but not transgender protections.
1975 — Abzug introduces the Civil Rights Amendment of 1975, which would add “affectional or sexual preference” to existing civil rights laws, separating sex and marital status from sexual orientation.
1994 — The modern version of the Civil Rights Amendment, now called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), is introduced with gay-only protection without public accommodations or housing provisions. The Senate Labor & Human Resources Committee holds the first hearings on ENDA. It fails to make it out of committee, as does a 1995 version.
Sept. 10, 1996 — With the consent of national gay advocacy groups, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the lead sponsor of ENDA, struck a deal with Senate Republican leaders to allow ENDA to come up for a vote only if Kennedy and his Democratic allies agreed to end a filibuster blocking a vote on the anti-gay DOMA. On the same day the Senate narrowly defeated ENDA, it passed DOMA by a vote of 85 to 14.
November 8, 1997 —President Bill Clinton became the first sitting President to address the Human Rights Campaign dinner, where he called on Congress to immediately pass ENDA. During the speech, interrupted by HIV/AIDS activists, President Clinton tells the HRC dinner
attendees, “Once again I call upon Congress to honor our most cherished principles and make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act the law of the land.”  President Clinton goes on to state, “You want us to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act…. I believe it will pass.”
1997 — Another version of ENDA is introduced with hearings held by the Senate Labor & Human Resources Committee, but fails to make it out of committee.
March 31, 1998 — Bella Abzug dies.

1999 — The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force becomes the first gay civil rights organization to stop work on ENDA because of its lack of a transgender provision. ENDA reintroduced, again without transgender protections, fails to make it out of committee.


May 2001 — Democrats win back control of the Senate by one vote. During the next year and a half, Democrats have the ability to bring up ENDA and other gay rights measures to the Senate floor for a vote but don’t. Elizabeth Birch, then-director of HRC, says they expected a Republican-led filibuster and didn’t have the 60 votes to end such a move. A version of ENDA is considered in committee but doesn’t make it to the House or Senate floor.
2002 — ENDA hearings in the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, but it never makes it to the floor for a vote.
2003 — ENDA re-introduced without trans provision but never makes it out of committee.
August 2004 — A transgender protest outside the HRC offices in Washington, DC, cause HRC to change its position from opposing a transgender provision (on the grounds that it would hurt ENDA’s chance of passing) to opposing the entire bill unless it includes a transgender clause.
2006 — During midterm elections, Democrats and the Democratic Leadership once again promise to make passage of ENDA a top priority.


April 24, 2007 — ENDA introduced in the House and includes a gender identity clause.
September 26, 2007 — Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) announces that he does not have the votes to pass an inclusive ENDA and recommends passing a non-inclusive ENDA. Frank also says it’s unwise to push a vote that could result in defeat as it makes it harder to bring up later as members of Congress aren’t likely to change their votes and thus risk accusations of flip-flopping on a controversial issue.
Week of October 5, 2007 — Leaders of 150 state and national gay groups led by National Gay & Lesbian Task Force sign a statement demanding that members of Congress oppose any version of ENDA that lacks trans protection. The group eventually claims to represent more than 300 organizations and calls itself United ENDA. Members argue that, with President Bush in office, the bill is unlikely to become law anyway — so Congress should proceed with a fully-inclusive version. Joe Solmonese of HRC said passing any form of ENDA in the House now would set an important precedent that would improve chances of enacting the bill into law in the near future, even if it didn’t make it into law in 2007. He argues a successful gay-only ENDA will pave the way for future transgender provisions. Frank, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and others also say moving a version of ENDA successfully through Congress has symbolic significance regardless of what the president might do.
October 7, 2007 —Rep. Barney Frank chastises the LGBT community on the floor of the House for refusing to move forward with a non-inclusive ENDA, claiming that if a non-inclusive ENDA passes, it could be signed into law early in 2009 — if we get a Democratic President and House and Senate majorities.
October 10, 2007 — Rep. Pelosi says she strongly disagrees with activists who say Congress should refuse to vote on a gay-only ENDA and says lobbying Congress “does not mean finding the three biggest champions for your issue and banging them over the head.”
October 18, 2007 — Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) offers a floor amendment restoring gender identity language to ENDA, but ultimately is forced to pull it.
October 18, 2007 — The House Committee on Education & Labor votes to approve a gay-only ENDA and reports it to the full House for action.
October 24, 2007 — House postpones promised non-inclusive ENDA house vote.

Week of Oct. 31 — ENDA postponed for unspecified reasons. Freshman House Democrats reportedly urge Pelosi not to allow Baldwin to introduce her amendment in fear that voting on it will hurt their re-election efforts.


November 7, 2007 — House passes non-inclusive ENDA 235 to 184, five days before end of session with no vote taken or scheduled in the Senate — effectively rendering it dead.



January 10, 2008 — HRC President Joe Solomonese says “it could have been until 2011 before another vote was taken” if “HRC abandoned (non-inclusive) ENDA.

June 26, 2008 — Congress holds groundbreaking hearing on gender identity issues.


September 13, 2008­ — LA Times editorial accuses Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) of using Sen. Kennedy’s illness as an excuse for inaction on ENDA and calls on then candidate Obama “to nudge” Reid to pass it, before the session ended, as a tribute to Kennedy.

October 21, 2008 — Baldwin claims that the upcoming election is crucial and that by her count they are “very, very close to a majority who were willing to vote on an inclusive ENDA.”


December 2008 — Senate takes no action on ENDA and it dies in another session.


May 18, 2009 — DNC Treasurer and chief gay fundraiser chastises the LGBT community for being impatient, saying, “If we get hate crimes this Summer or Fall (2009) and ENDA this Fall or Winter (2009), lets not spend too much of our energy angry that we didn’t get them this past Spring (2009).”

June 17, 2009 —Rep. Barney Frank announces plans to introduce an inclusive ENDA and says he believes the “prospects for passing and inclusive ENDA has improved significantly” because “the transgendered [sic] community is lobbying hard.”


June 24, 2009 — Inclusive-ENDA bill introduced in the House.


June 25, 2009 — Frank says that “Democrats are in a very good place” to move on LGBT related bills.


June 25, 2009 — Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) says he is “optimistic we will be able to pass [ENDA] and we can get it out of the Senate” adding “this is the next step in the equality agenda.”


August, 2009 —Inclusive ENDA bill introduced in the Senate by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Edward Kennedy (D-MA).


September, 2009 — House committee hearing for inclusive ENDA.


September 12, 2009 — NY Times editorial claims “supporters in the House think they have the votes” and calls on congressional leaders to make passage of ENDA “a top priority.”

October 10, 2009 —President Obama at the HRC Dinner says “we’re pushing hard to pass an inclusive non-discrimination bill.”

October 10, 2009 —Openly gay Obama appointee and OPM Director John Berry says ENDA is “the linchpin to achieving other equality goals at the federal level” and adds “if we pass ENDA, DOMA will fall in the courts.”


November 10, 2009 — Rep. Barney Frank says ENDA is “in very good shape,” would be marked up before year’s end, and voted on in the House “in December or in February, with the Senate voting in the Spring.”


November 10, 2009 — HRC lobbyist says she “remains hopeful that a House vote on ENDA could take place before year’s end.”


November 11, 2009 — Dr. Jillian Weiss, a transgender activist, warns about “re-do of 2007” with chances of passage of ENDA slipping during “crunchtime.”

November 16, 2009 — White House LGBT liaison says “were working on ENDA” and “you’re going to see markup in the House next week on ENDA.


November 16, 2009 — House Education and Labor Committee announces markup on ENDA is postponed indefinitely and Hill staffer claims it will be “rescheduled after the Thanksgiving holiday.”


November 17, 2009 — It is reported that the House Committee vote was postponed “so that lawyers could adjust the legal language regarding issues of disparate impact, double recovery and attorneys fee.”  HRC lobbyist says “our understanding is that the committee lawyers wanted a few more days to look at several of the outstanding issues” and “hopefully we’ll be able to see a markup after Thanksgiving and before the end of the year.”  Rep. Barney Frank suggests that a full House vote “might not take place until February of next year.”

November 18, 2009 — Another House Committee markup is postponed.


December 4, 2009 — HRC learns that ENDA will not be considered by the House this year and says “delays are absolutely unacceptable” and “calls for an end to further delays.”



January 5, 2010 — Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Tammy Baldwin blame the delay of ENDA on the healthcare reform debate and say “later this month the legislation will undergo markup” and added that they both had “spoken with Speaker Pelosi and Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller and were confident that the bill would receive a vote.”


March 18, 2010 — GetEQUAL ENDA protestors stage sit-ins simultaneously at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s DC and San Francisco offices, demanding an ENDA vote out of committee within 30 days while a coordinated blogswarm jams her phone lines.

March 18, 2010 — Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spokesperson says that “the Speaker believes passing ENDA is a top priority and hopes that we can bring ENDA up as soon as possible. That being said, the right time to bring the measure to the floor will be when we have the votes.”


March 18, 2010 — Rep. Tammy Baldwin says “as someone who has actually counted the votes, I believe that there are” votes in place and added “we want the votes as soon as possible.


March 23, 2010 — Rep. Barney Frank says he told House Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller “now, its our turn” since healthcare reform had passed and then says that a vote on ENDA “may not come this week” afterall, but he “expects a votes as soon as the come back” from recess on April 9.


March 30, 2010 — Rep. Jared Polis says “we have the votes to pass ENDA in the house and we hope to bring it before the committee I serve on within the month—by the end of April” and added that “once it passes the committee, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks-a week or two-to schedule it to the floor.


April 1, 2010 — David Mixner sends out a warning saying “We were told by our Congressional representatives that ENDA would be passed by the first of March. Now we are told it might be April but they are not sure it will pass the Senate. Democratic leaders begged us to wait until after healthcare was successfully passed. Done and brilliantly done. Kudos to all. But now they are telling us – uh-oh – they used up all their ‘chits and clout’ with healthcare and now is not the time. ENDA is right up there with the federal employees legislation and should be the least controversial legislation of all. After all, it has been basically hanging around for over – hello – thirty years!

April 13, 2010 — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says that the House will likely take up ENDA this year and that, even though it includes gender identity, it is less controversial now than it has been in the past.



April 15, 2010 — Hinting at trouble, Rep. Barney Frank says “I’ve tried to get a sense of what’s going on here. But I think the best thing I can do about the Senate and ENDA is to get it passed [in the House] and send it over there.” Frank’s advice for ENDA backers worried about the Senate is to “call senators and lobby them” rather than dwell too much on “arm chair strategizing.”


April 15, 2010 — Rep. Barney Frank works with transgender activists to develop compromise language to allay several Senators’ and Housemembers’ objections to transgender inclusion. The changes are expected to be disclosed when the House version of the bill is marked up.


April 15, 2010 — Rep. Barney Frank says that the fact that the measure passed the House last Congress without the transgender provision “helps our Members understand that this is not toxic, because nobody that I know of lost any race because of it” and says “we have done some education on the transgender issue, which we hadn’t done before. Two years ago, he said, the matter was ‘too new.’”

http://www.rollcall.com/issues/55_116/news/45192-1.html(subscription needed)

April 15, 2010 — Speaker Nancy Pelosi says “The committee of jurisdiction, the Education & Labor Committee is working very hard to have the strongest possible bill and vote when we come to the floor. I believe that it will be soon, and as soon as they are ready, Leader Hoyer and I agreed that it will come to the floor. So, I think it will be pretty soon.”

April 15, 2010 — Rep. Barney Frank says “we have an agreed-upon bill, we’re going to get the bill voted on this spring – what people really ought to focus on is helping us get the vote. I think we’re pretty close, but it’s not a done deal.”


April 18, 2010 — Rep. Barney Frank says legislation aimed at ending employment discrimination against LGBT people will be marked up in committee “this week or next” and then added that “the speaker has promised that we will get this done fairly quickly.”


April 21, 2010 — GetEqual activists interrupted a meeting of the House Committee on Education and Labor today, handing Chairman George Miller a permanent marker labeled “GetEQUAL: Markup ENDA.” He refused to take the marker and said, “We’re working on it as expeditiously as we can.”

April 21, 2010 — Dr. Jillian Weiss says “after all, we’ve been promised an ENDA vote every month since last summer, and not a darn thing has happened.”


April 28, 2010 — Two weeks after another missed vote promised by Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Tammy Baldwin put her ”goal” for the timeline at ”the next couple weeks.”


April 30, 2010 — A spokesperson for Chairman George Miller says ”we haven’t scheduled it yet,” but added ”he intends to get to it very shortly” when asked about ENDA.


May 7, 2010 — HRC’s lobbyist says “we think we’re closing the gap, and members are starting to understand the importance” of the transgender language.”


May 7, 2010 — Sen. Tom Harkin says he would try to move the bill this year if approved by the House, but advocates say they have yet to receive a firm commitment from the Senate leadership.


May 10, 2010 — The whip count on ENDA enters its fifth week, and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, responding to complaints from moderate lawmakers who question the political wisdom of pushing gay rights bills in a difficult election year, says, “Name one issue where you don’t hear that?” and then adds “they should choose another profession.”


May 10, 2010 — The National Center for Transgender Equality, along with the Transgender Law Center, and the Coalition of State/City Transgender Advocacy Organizations, held a conference call and learned that the legislators had completed the weeks-long, extra-careful whipping process. They claimed that legislators were “comfortable” that there are well beyond a majority of votes to pass ENDA, right now and there are enough votes to defeate the motion to strip gender identity from the bill. Mara Kiesling, Executive Director of NCTE says “in my seven years working on LGBT issues, I have never seen an issue where the volume is in favor of the LGBT issue. We have in the past heard that it is a thousand to one against. Now, we are hearing that it is 2 to 1 in favor.”

May 13, 2010 — Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) who serves as chief whip for the Blue Dog Coalition says, when asked about ENDA, “I don’t think they should bring it up, first, let’s get our fiscal house in order.” Referring to his colleagues he says that asking them to vote on a transgender bill in this year’s political climate would be “a mistake” and states that he “can’t imagine that it would” make it to the floor this year.”


May 13, 2010 — Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE says, “The community and the movement have done everything we’ve been asked to do. We’ve worked and worked and gotten sufficient votes to make sure gender identity stays in the bill, but the bill is not being prioritized.”  Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says, “We have heard that the official whip is completed and that there are enough votes to pass ENDA in committee and in the House, which tells us that our vigorous lobbying and grassroots engagement efforts are being effective. Leadership needs to do the right thing, right now, and schedule a markup and pass an inclusive ENDA. It’s just a question of getting prioritization.”


May 17, 2010 — Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a conference call with community leaders and went through the legislative calendar to explain that taking a vote on ENDA and DADT in the same week was literally impossible from a scheduling point of view. However, Pelosi also said “its not one or the other” and ““I have no intention of losing on either of these.”


May 18, 2010 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, six other LGBT organizations, and four long-time LGBT activists held a press conference in DC to demand a vote immediately on ENDA. GetEQUAL demonstrated outside Speaker Pelosi’s San Francisco district office and outside the Capitol.


May 21, 2010 — Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is still optimistic that the House will have enough votes for both ENDA and the DADT repeal compromise saying “I’m not going to bring up anything that’s not going to win and we feel that were in a pretty good, strong position on both bills. When the opportunity is there, we want to bring it up, and I hope that will be soon.”

May 21, 2010 — Rep. Barney Frank says that ENDA will be delayed until late June or mid-July because of the planned upcoming vote on the compromise repeal of DADT.



June 8, 2010 — Rep. Anthony Weiner says that President Obama has so far forged “a timid administration” and added that “there is a general sense out there that he [Obama] is not prepared to lead in the classic sense. He says, ‘ Okay, there are 218 votes, I’ll sign it.” Despite this critique Rep. Weiner is confident that Speaker Pelosi is committee to pushing ENDA through the House, and prepared to withstand any effort by Republicans to kill the measure with poison-pill amendments.


June 11, 2010 — Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that lawmakers “still have to finish ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And now, of course, we’ll go—after the bill passes in the Senate—we’ll go to conference. But our work is not finished in that regard, so one thing at a time.”


June 15, 2010 — A spokesperson for Rep. Barney Frank says the congressman was not concerned by Speaker Pelosi’s comments (see above) saying “he doesn’t think the vote is in jeopardy” and still anticipates a vote taking place this year.


July 1, 2010 — Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) says, when asked whether the House would vote on ENDA this year, “The rest of the year is in question. ENDA, we will have that law for sure within the next five years.”

July 12, 2010 — President Obama met with Senate leadership and decided to focus on three bills over the next two weeks, prior to their recess, and ENDA was not one of the three — even though most agree that little legislating will be possible between the time they return from recess and the midterm elections.


July 14, 2010 — Diego Sanchez, a staffer for Rep. Barney Frank, says, “Congressman Frank is still doing whipping. We’re almost there, and I’m hoping that it still comes up this year. I don’t know whether it will. I can’t predict that.”


July 15, 2010 — Rep. Barney Frank spokesperson says “we should encourage the Senate to develop a course for ENDA to ensure that when the House passes the legislation, the Senate can move quickly to send the legislation to the president’s desk.”


July 15, 2010 — GetEQUAL shuts down Las Vegas Strip in order to get attention of Majority Leader Harry Reid in advance of progressive conference Netroots Nation.


July 24, 2010 — Nancy Pelosi is asked a question at Netroots Nation about ENDA and responds that “It’s almost embarrassing to have to pass a bill to end discrimination in the workplace.” Regarding timing of the passage of ENDA, she says, “I can’t give you a time. But I can tell you that it is a priority and it had been our hope to do it this year. We have to finish Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and hopefully we can do both this year.”


July 24, 2010 — Harry Reid is offered Lt. Dan Choi’s West Point ring as a symbol of the career destroyed by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He accepts it, and asks Choi whether he wants DADT or ENDA passed. Choi responds that, as he is now a civilian, he wants ENDA but we need both.


July 28, 2010 — GetEQUAL stages a sit-in at the Capitol Rotunda outside Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, reminding her to make good on promises to bring ENDA to the floor.


August 2, 2010 — Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine records a video reaction to over 5,000 questions submitted by LGBT Americans and allies. In the final response, Kaine promises, “We’re going to do everything in our power to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”http://my.democrats.org/page/content/pridereportback

To see a list of GetEQUAL’s actions in 2010 (related and unrelated to ENDA), please click here.

One Response to “ENDA Timeline: Broken Promises”

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