by Max Brantley
I'd missed this, but apparently Sen. Blanche Lincoln is indicating to constituents that she opposes legislation to bar discrimination in employment practices on account of sexual orientation and gender identity. In a letter to constituents, she indicates this would amount to a "special right." No, senator, the law would end a special and particularly invidious brand of discrimination. It's a sad addition to Lincoln's list of disappointing panders. Unlike her panders to the wealthy, which are merely about money, this one has a particularly hateful human toll.
Meanwhile, progressives hold out some hope that Sen.Mark Pryor can be brought into a 60-vote bloc to overcome a Republican/Blanche Lincoln/etc. filibuster.
The back story on this relates to Senator Pryor's father, David Pryor, who held this Senate seat in 1996, when ENDA was poised for passage. As told by The Caucus Blog: The Blogosphere Voice of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus:
Everything was in place, but something terrible happened. Arkansas Senator David Pryor was planning to support the Kennedy sponsored ENDA bill, but he was called back to Little Rock. His son, Mark Pryor, the current junior Senator from Arkansas, was undergoing an emergency operation just as the debate and vote commenced in Washington. From USA today: "A surgeon operating on a torn tendon discovered sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that is usually fatal. Pryor underwent 13 hours of surgery to have his tendon replaced in 1996. It was 15 months before he was able to walk again unassisted."
ENDA failed of passage by one vote, but, thankfully, Mark Pryor recovered and has gone on to a successful career in the Senate. It would be a fitting tribute for the current Senator Pryor to cast that vote in the 111th Congress.
FROM LINCOLN LETTER TO CONSTITUENT:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S. 1584) which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. However, equal rights should not become special rights, and I appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts with me on this important issue. You can be sure I will remember the concerns you raised if this or similar legislation is considered in the U.S. Senate..... "