Vote to bar workplace discrimination against gay people puts Pryor on the spot | Arkansas Blog

Monday, October 28, 2013

Vote to bar workplace discrimination against gay people puts Pryor on the spot

Posted By on Mon, Oct 28, 2013 at 1:06 PM

click to enlarge ON THE SPOT: Sen. Pryor pressed to support ENDA.
  • ON THE SPOT: Sen. Pryor pressed to support ENDA.
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will schedule a vote before Thanksgiving on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ban workplace discrimination on account of sexual orientation.

It's not a very complicated issue. As Reid himself said once:

My niece is a lesbian. She's a school teacher. Her employment shouldn't be affected with that. We should have a law that says that, not just the good graces of wherever you work.

Polls show, too, that most Americans say they don't believe sexual orientation should be ground for employment discrimination. They say that. Do they mean it?

Republicans apparently think not. Few of them support ENDA. Sen. John Boozman has said, for example, that ENDA would open up businesses to lawsuits. Yes, just as discrimination on account of age, gender, race or religion opens businesses up to lawsuits. Don't discriminate and you don't get sued.

The issue will put Sen. Mark Pryor on the spot. Among advocates for the law, he's listed as one of three Democrats yet to declare a position on the issue. Groups working to pass the law think they have enough Republican supporters now to defeat a filibuster, which means Pryor would have to vote. Will he? I've asked his office. No response yet.

moveon.org has organized a petition campaign to urge a positive vote by Pryor. National polling by a Republican pollster in September found 61 percent support, including support in Arkansas. Many already think such a law exists.

The recent Arkansas Poll by the University of Arkansas seemed to show even broader support.

It asked if gays and lesbians should "have equal rights in terms of job opportunities?"

81 percent of very likely voters said yes; 11 percent said no, the rest wouldn't answer.

It would not be like an Arkansas Republican politician to join the 81 percent. And if Mark Pryor does vote for non-discrimination in the workplace, what are the chances that Rep. Tom Cotton will give him an attaboy? Does it matter that Walmart has had a non-discrimination employment policy for a decade? Sigh. I think I can guess the answers.

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