Openly gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) was honored by the Los Angeles-based Stonewall Democratic Club on Sunday. Before he accepted his Elected Official of the Year Award and left to visit his family in the San Diego area, I got a chance to ask him a few questions about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the fixes to the healthcare reform bill.
Polis said that an inclusive ENDA is expected to come up for a vote on the House floor in the next few weeks where it will pass by a substantial margin. The problem, he said, is the US Senate. He also said he expects President Obama will use the bully pulpit to bring ENDA to his desk.
(I’ll have more from the Stonewall Democratic Club event later – including Clever Jones’ fiery speech and ally Christine Pelosi’s optimism.)
KO: Where are we on ENDA?
JP: We have the votes to pass ENDA in the House and we hope to bring it before the committee I serve on – the Education Labor Committee – within the month – by the end of April. And then, once it passes the committee, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks – a week or two – to schedule it for the floor. It’s just a scheduling matter.
We think we would have passed it by now if it wasn’t for healthcare taking up much of the workload of our committee.
I don’t know about the Senate – but in the House, we expect to pass out substantially. It has substantial support. The Senate requires 60 votes so it’s a matter of getting some Republican moderates to support it.
KO: Will Obama use bully pulpit and will you nudge him along on ENDA?
JP: I think President Obama played a constructive role in helping bring hate crimes to his desk and I think he’ll play a similar role in helping to get ENDA to his desk.
KO: What are the talking points to pass ENDA?
JP: In terms of tying it into a jobs message – it’s certainly about security about jobs, about a society that’s free from discrimination. Of course, many states already have inclusive ENDA. California has an inclusive ENDA, I believe and so does Colorado, by the way – my state. So it won’t make a difference, per se, in those states. But in areas of the country where gays and lesbians face the most discrimination, it will make a big difference.
KO: What About Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?
JP: I certainly advocate repealing it as soon as possible. There’s many other people in the House who feel that way. We’re up to close to 190 co-sponsors of Patrick Murphy’s bill to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I think the sooner we repeal it the better. It’s the military’s position that they want to complete the study first.
KO: You don’t think we need the study?
JP: No, of course not. It’s been studied and it’s an obvious and easy call to make: we should have ended this policy years ago.
Full story: lgbtpov.com