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    September 04, 2007

    ENDA finally gets a hearing

    Posted by: Chris

    Endacallout_5 A House subcommittee will finally hold hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on Wednesday morning, some eight months after Democrats took control of Congress. The Human Rights Campaign released a partial witness list that includes three House member, including out gay reps Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.).

    The House panel will also hear from experts on the topic, and as usual the list is stacked to support the majority's view -- in this case support for ENDA. After those six witnesses speak, there are two witnesses picked by Republicans who are expected to oppose. Both are lawyers, and one is a lobbyist.

    Larry Lorber, a partner in the Washington, DC office of the Proskauer Rose law firm, is likely to speak from the perspective of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, according to HRC.  The Chamber's opposition to ENDA represents a general hostility to regulation that exposes businesses to a greater threat of litigation. But it will be interesting to see whether Lorber gets asked why his own law firm has an equal opportunity policy that includes sexual orientation.

    Lorber might argue that the Proskauer Rose policy proves that the private sector will protect gays on its own, or maybe he would point that jurisdictions where the firm has offices prohibit gay workplace bias. But in fact, it points out the Catch-22 that demonstrates the need for ENDA: The law is most needed to protect workers whose employers, or whose state and local government, are hostile toward gay people.

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