Jeffords, Shays Introduce Stronger ENDA

Member of House GOP Leadership, Two GOP Freshmen Join as Co-Sponsors

June 24, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The Republican chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Senator James Jeffords (R-VT) and Congressman Christopher Shays (R-CT), joined by Republican and Democratic Members of Congress, announced the introduction of a modified Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) at a Capitol Hill press conference today. Joining as a new original co-sponsor of the measure, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, is Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Secretary of the House Republican Conference and senior member of the House Rules Committee.

The sponsors of ENDA added a new provision to the bill which expressly prohibits affirmative action on the basis of sexual orientation, addressing a chief concern some Members of Congress have raised in previous debates. Combined with an exemption for religious organizations and prohibitions on preferential treatment, quotas, use of "disparate impact" studies and EEOC collection of workplace statistics on sexual orientation, the 1999 version of ENDA is the strongest since its original introduction in 1994.

"People should be judged in the workplace on their merits, not on their sexual orientation," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, one of the leading organizations involved in the drafting of ENDA. "That is a core Republican principle, and it's written into the Congressional office policies of about 100 Republican Members of Congress. Senator Jeffords and the sponsors have listened to their colleagues and have responded with a number of modifications throughout the process, and the bill is now closer to that core Republican principle than ever before."

"Today also demostrates the vital importance of Senator Jeffords and his leadership in the Senate," Tafel said. "His extraordinary dedication to this bill is another reason why the gay community must unite behind re-electing him in 2000 and keeping him at the helm."

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator John Chafee (R-RI) joined as original Senate GOP co-sponsors. Original House GOP co-sponsors, in addition to Shays and Pryce, include openly gay Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), chairman of the House Treasury Appropriations Subcommittee; Congressman Jim Leach (R-IA), chairman of the House Banking Committee; Congresswoman Nancy Johnson (R-CT), chair of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee; and Congresswoman Sue Kelly (R-NY), chair of the House Small Business Subcomittee on Regulatory Reform; and Republican freshmen Congressman Steve Kuykendall (R-CA) and Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), both endorsed and supported by Log Cabin Republicans in 1998.