Nothing Says Monday Like Bigotry in Congress

"Federalism, dude."

“Federalism, dude.”

The U.S. Senate votes today on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a common-sense measure that would outlaw employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. ENDA has been floating around Congress in various forms for almost two decades, and a version of it actually passed the House by a pretty good margin in 2007. In today’s action Democrats need five Republican senators to avoid a filibuster, and as of this morning five sensible GOPers have signaled support for ENDA. Might they be joined by either of Tennessee’s supposedly not-right-wing-crazy senators? Unlikely.

Lamar Alexander is already on record with his disdain for the rights of LGBT workers, as Politico reported last week:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a bipartisan deal-maker who faces a primary challenge in his 2014 reelection bid, said the bill amounted to “too much federal overreach.” … “One of my guiding principles is federalism,” Alexander said. “I don’t think we need an additional federal law to regulate it.”

How refreshing — federalism as a pretense for bigotry! Where have we seen that dance before? Given that we already have federal law engaging in regulatory “overreach” with its ban on employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, one must conclude that Lamar stands firmly for repeal of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Top that for GOP primary season unhingery, Joe Carr!

I can find no clear evidence of Sen. Bob Corker’s intentions on today’s vote, but in an op-ed over the weekend, Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project surmised that Corker won’t support ENDA either. Our two allegedly business-friendly senators might want to get on the same page with Apple CEO Tim Cook, who backs ENDA with the observation that “embracing people’s individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights.”

A version of this post appears on the Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind blog.



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