As Senators fall all over themselves to support marriage equality, Jonathan Bernstein at The Plum Line asks a good question: whatever happened to ENDA?
Workplace protection has been a topic for discussion long before marriage equality, and far more Americans support it. So you would think that ENDA would be a whole lot easier to accept than marriage equality, but in the upside-down world of Washington, just the opposite is now true.
Here are five reasons why ENDA is lagging while marriage equality leapfrogs ahead:
1. Marriage is sexy. It’s become the litmus test for Democratic politicians, particularly Senators, and it makes a good headline. ENDA is old news, which means it’s no news.
2. There are no high visibility workplace discrimination stories. Where are today’s Cracker Barrels? They are out there somewhere, but you don’t read about them.
3. Big business has gotten behind marriage, so workplace issues appear to be moot. When Aetna, Starbucks, Microsoft and dozens of other big corporations filed friend-of-the-court briefs arguing for the repeal of DOMA, it seemed it gave the public every reason to assume that getting fired for being gay was no longer a pressing work issue.
4. Senators who have evolved on marriage don’t have to vote on it. It’s great to come out in favor of marriage, but it’s another to actually vote in favor of a law. A lot of Senators are happy to let the Supreme Court (presumably) and the states do the equality work for them. ENDA involves, you know, actual legislating, which is not these lawmakers’ strong suit.
5. Limited resources mean picking one battle at a time. Momentum is on the side of marriage equality, so all the energy is there. The question is whether, once the Supreme Court rules, ENDA gets any attention again.