Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin, who became the first openly gay person to be elected to the US Senate last year, served in the United States House of Representatives from 1999-2013. To her former peers, and to House Speaker John Boehner directly, she has one thing to say: Pass ENDA.
Baldwin spoke with MSNBC just before casting her vote in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which successfully cleared the Senate with a 64-32 bipartisan win on Thursday afternoon. The legislation would ensure workplace protections for LGBT people.
Boehner has said that he believes ENDA would lead to “frivolous litigation” and hurt small businesses.
When the interviewer asked Senator Baldwin what she would say to Boehner and his concerns, she replied:
What I would say to Speaker Boehner is this is about America’s core and fundamental values: freedom, fairness and opportunity. It’s so much in the American tradition that people be judged by their work ethic, by their talents, by the skills that qualify them for a job rather than sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s what I would say on the substantive side.
On the procedural side, I’d say what we said during the shutdown: Just bring it up for a vote. Because I feel that the House, if given the opportunity to vote up or down against discrimination in employment, against the LGBT community, that we’d win that vote. We’d win that day. And so that’s what I’d say to Speaker Boehner: Just give it an up-or-down vote.
An up or down vote refers to a direct vote in the US House of Representatives or Senate in which members vote yea or nay on a matter rather than on a related procedural maneuver. It is most often used when a bill is being delayed by various means such as tabling, recommitting, or amending. An up or down vote would get the bill past legislative hurdles and on to the floor for a vote.