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This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Liveblogging the Senate ENDA hearing Thursday, 10am ET

I will be liveblogging the Senate ENDA hearing Thursday
morning at 10am ET at http://bilerico.com Please join us then to view the video of the hearing and commentary on events as they unfold.

ENDA, of course, is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the bill to prohibit job discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. The hearing is being held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (the "HELP" Committee).

I am not yet sure where the HELP Committee hearing will be broadcast, am looking into it and will tell you when I find out. During the liveblog, we will provide you with instantaneous information about the Committee members as they speak, the witnesses as they testify, and references to specific issues in the bill as they are raised. You will see comments from some well-known members of our community in the hearing room via Twitter. Tweeters from the hearing room will include Kerry Eleveld, reporter for The Advocate, and Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, as well as several others.

As we saw in the House hearing held on September 23, we will probably see a statement by the Chair, Senator Tom Harkin, a statement by the ranking Republican member, Senator Michael Enzi, and statements by a series of witnesses who have experience regarding the need and import of the legislation. Senators can ask questions of the witnesses and make comments, and a final statement by the Chair will close the meeting.

There are 23 members of the Senate Committee that will be hearing this matter. 12 are confirmed yes votes, 10 are unconfirmed, and 1 is a confirmed no vote. Two of these unconfirmed votes are going to be very important to watch: Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina. You can see the spreadsheet with the info for each Senator on the Committee here: http://bit.ly/4maV59

There are 56 confirmed yes votes according to my calculations, so four more are needed to overcome the Republican filibuster. Senators Murkowski and Hagan could bring us up to 58. Neither of them have revealed much about how they will vote. Senator Murkowski has simply said nothing, though she was one of 5 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote against the Republican filibuster of the hate crimes bill. I suspect that she believes in workplace equality, but don't have much a basis for that belief, since she has said nothing on the issue. When Senator Hagan was in the North Carolina legislature, she co-sponsored an inclusive ENDA-type bill that included both sexual orientation and gender identity. However, she has told constituents who inquired that she would have supported the 2007 SPLENDA bill (split ENDA, containing sexual orientation only and not gender identity), and will have to consider carefully the impacts of this new bill.

Their behavior and words at the hearing will reveal much about how well ENDA is doing.

Please join us Thursday morning from 10am to about noon or 1 Eastern Time at http://bilerico.com for the hearing video and liveblog.

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