Dems File Discharge Petition on Gay Rights Bill

Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.) and three other Democrats filed a discharge petition Wednesday to force a House vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The petition would need to win the backing of 218 lawmakers to force House consideration of the non-discrimination bill passed last year by the Senate. The measure would prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Discharge petitions are rarely successful, and the petition is likely an attempt to highlight the issue ahead of the midterm elections. A related House bill has a total of 205 co-sponsors, including eight Republicans.

Along with Polis, who is co-chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus, Democratic Reps. Rush Holt (N.J.), John Garamendi (Calif.) and Gerry Connolly (Va.) signed the petition.

House leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), put their weight behind the effort during a press conference later Wednesday.

“The Senate has passed the ENDA bill in a bipartisan way. The House should take it up,” Pelosi said. “Instead of wasting time and money, squandering over three million dollars defending discrimination on the DOMA bill and now squandering more resources to fight equality,  we should be taking up the ENDA bill.”