The upcoming Senate vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act presents Republicans with a tricky problem: Do they vote against a very popular bill, alienating young voters in particular, or do do they piss off their bigoted base by saying no, it shouldn't be legal to fire people because they're gay or transgender? With every Democrat in support and two Republicans—Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois—having cosponsored the bill, while two—Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska—voted for it in committee, ENDA is potentially just one vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority. Republicans are, predictably, looking for ways to weaken it, invoking all their favorite buzzwords like "religious liberty" (despite very broad religious exemptions already in the bill) and "states' rights," but they face some pressure from within their own party—and pressure with an interesting message:
[Former Sen. Norm] Coleman added, “Some of us aren’t there on marriage equity, but there’s no reason we shouldn’t be there on nondiscrimination. We’re the party of Lincoln. It’s our roots.” [...]That's right, the message is "hey, at least it's not marriage!" That's inspiring, isn't it? Marriage equality is, of course, mostly out of the hands of Congress, being fought in the states and the courts. But what a perfectly Republican way to sell the basic principle that employers shouldn't get to fire or refuse to hire people because they're LGBT.
... the American Unity Fund, founded by major GOP donor Paul Singer, has hired two former GOP lawmakers as lobbyists — Coleman and former New York Rep. Tom Reynolds — to press Republicans to back the plan. Reynolds is making clear that this issue isn’t the same as gay marriage — an issue he opposed when he served in Congress — saying the bill eliminates only “workplace discrimination.”