Speaker of the House John Boehner has vowed to block the House from taking up Senate-passed legislation protecting gays from job discrimination because it’s bad for business.
He insists he’s not a homophobe or a bigot, just looking out for business interests. Besides, he doesn’t see any need for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (EDNA), which the Senate approved last week by a 64-32 bipartisan majority.
Boehner (R-Ohio) “believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” according to his spokesman.
His decision protects the GOP’s reputation, enforced by the hard right social conservatives, for homophobia.
True, three quarters of Senate Republicans voted against EDNA, 10 did show the courage to take a stand against bigotry and join 52 Democrats and two independents to pass the legislation. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (KY), who faces a Tea Party primary opponent next year, tried but failed to scrape up enough backers to filibuster the measure to death.
Supporters say the House version has 193 Republican cosponsors, but Boehner, a longtime foe, wouldn’t budge. And since Barack Obama strongly supports the bill, the last thing Boehner would want to do is pass a law this President wants.
If Boehner had been around at the time, he might have used the same argument to oppose the 13th amendment banning slavery.
No doubt the same “bad for business” argument was used to oppose laws banning discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion or disability.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against ENDA, to no one’s surprise. He claims he doesn’t really approve of discrimination but it is not government’s role to tell businesses who they may or may not hire or serve. Like his father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), with whom he shares presidential ambitions, he indicated he would have voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act because if a business doesn’t want to hire someone or serve them at a lunch counter, that’s none of Washington’s business.
Thanks to John Boehner, the Tea Baggers and other opponents of non-discrimination legislation like ENDA and same sex marriage, the GOP’s reputation for homophobia survives.