U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, Pete Gallego, and Gene Green, the missing Texas Democratic votes
This week, a final total of 220 U.S. Representatives and Senators joined in signing a letter urging President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting workplace discrimination against LGBT federal workers. This executive order would cover as many as 16 million employees.
“We are writing to urge you to fulfill the promise in your State of the Union address to make this a 'year of action' and build upon the momentum of 2013 by signing an executive order banning federal contractors from engaging in employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As you have said before, 'now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it,'” says the letter.
Nine out of the twelve Texas Democratic members in the House were among those who signed the letter, in addition to also co-sponsoring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that is further more comprehensive at preventing workplace discrimination than an executive order by President Obama.
As reported by Lone Star Q, only three Texas Democrats were among the lawmakers who did not sign the letter: Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), and Gene Green (D-Houston). Cuellar, Gallego and Green are among the very few Democrats in Congress who have also not co-sponsored ENDA.
With only 19 more votes needed to force Speaker John Boehner to call ENDA up to the floor, every single vote matters. Especially missing support by Democrats.
Read more below the jump.
For the first time since it was introduced in Congress in 1994, an all LGBT-inclusive ENDA has the very real possibility of becoming law. Not only because it is continued being pushed by Democrats, but now being championed through a bipartisan effort, also supported by many Republicans. A total of ten Republican Senators went on to support ENDA last year, among them a surprising vote by Senator John McCain, ultimately helping pass ENDA along with the Democrats for the very first time in the Senate's history.
In response to this historic vote, Boehner said he sees “no basis or no need for this legislation,” arguing that “[p]eople are already protected in the workplace.”
Speaker John Boehner is, sadly, very much misinformed.
It remains legal to fire someone based on their gender identity in 33 states, and in 29 states you can still fire someone based on their sexual orientation. In the state of Texas, you can do both.
According to Equality Texas' Equality 2013 Poll, an overwhelming majority of Texas voters, 75.8%, support banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace and housing. 69.7% of Texas voters also support protecting transgender citizens from workplace and housing discrimination.
Given the overwhelming support by Texas voters against LGBT discrimination in the workplace, it is fair to ask: Why have Democratic Representatives Cuellar, Gallego and Green not come out in support of ENDA? Considering just how close this major LGBT civil rights legislation is to becoming reality since it was first introduced twenty years ago, and just how important their votes are needed to finally make this possible.
Speaking as a young progressive, as a Democrat, an LGBT person, and as a Texas voter, I believe it's perfectly acceptable that our party has differences in views among it's members, especially those representing more conservative districts. But there are certain issues whose time for debate have long since passed — and employment discrimination is one of them. 75% of Texas voters agree on this very basic law.
For ENDA to succeed, it is pivotal for Democrats to stand in unity against LGBT discrimination in the workplace. And as the Democratic voting base, it is incumbent on us to voice our support against discrimination so that our party members can then make the right decision.
You can find the contact information for Congressmen Cuellar, Gallego and Green below: