If you’re like me, you are already feeling the push and pull of the coming holiday season. Yet, when Thanksgiving Day arrives, we get to take a brief, much-needed break and have a chance to reflect in deep gratitude on our blessings.
One aspect of our life and times for which I am truly grateful is the evolution of rights for the LGBTQ community in our nation.
The latest example was last week’s bi-partisan vote by the U.S. Senate to approve a bill banning workplace discrimination against LGBT individuals. It was a historic victory four decades in the making.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed its final vote in the full Senate 64-32.Ten Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents in voting “yes,” signaling how far the gay rights movement has come in recent years.
Before the bill passed, Democrats stood to remember former Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., the man who brought ENDA to the floor 17 years ago in 1996. Back then, the bill did not include protections for transgender Americans and failed by just one vote.
ENDA still has obstacles to overcome before it becomes law. Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tweeted at House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, “to do the right thing” and take up the bill.
Boehner, however, is refusing to bring ENDA on the floor of the GOP-controlled House and has already issued a statement against the bill.
Boehner argues that the legislation would burden businesses with “frivolous litigation” and “cost American jobs” though a Government Accountability Study released in July countered that claim. The report showed that in the 22 states where LGBT people are protected by some form of anti-discrimination laws, “the administrative complaint data reported by states at that time showed relatively few employment discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
And, of course, there’s negative media coverage to battle. Fox News virtually ignored the historic ENDA Senate vote, spending just four minutes on the subject, according to Media Matters, compared to CNN’s 10 minutes and MSNBC’s 47 minutes on the day the bill passed. Fully two minutes of Fox’s whopping four minutes of coverage was devoted to asking if the ENDA vote was a distraction from the Affordable Care Act coverage.
When I think back to just a year ago, the Supreme Court hadn’t even begun hearing formal arguments on ending DOMA or its case on Prop 8. On Wednesday, June 26, the world as we know it changed with the court’s historic ruling.
On Aug. 1, Minnesota and Rhode Island became the 12th and 13th states to allow same gender loving marriage, along with the District of Columbia. New Jersey followed suit on Oct. 21, after a judge overturned the state’s ban and Governor Chris Christie dropped his appeal of the ruling. On Wednesday of this week, Hawaii became the 15th state, and Illinois is set to become the 16th state in early December.
Yes, we have much to be thankful for! For now, blessings all around!