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Senator Ted Kennedy (D. MA) is smiling down on Senator Jeff Merkley (D. OR) today:

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 31: Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., speaks during the news conference to oppose the chained Consumer Price Index to cut benefits for Social Security and disabled veterans on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
For years, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) was ENDA's champion. Before he passed away in 2009, he asked Merkley to take the baton and champion the legislation that was near and dear to his heart.

"When Sen. Kennedy asked me to undertake this, my response to his team was, I'll only do so if it's fully inclusive," said Merkley, adding, "It was really a huge surprise to me that his team asked me to undertake leadership on this."

Merkley, however, was perhaps a natural fit, after the work he had done on the issue at the state level. In 2007, as an Oregon state senator, he shepherded a fully inclusive workplace non-discrimination law to passage in the state legislature.

"I had led this battle in Oregon successfully and had been deeply committed to it," he said. "I feel that such discrimination is wrong and our vision of equality in the Constitution, our vision of the pursuit of happiness in the Constitution and kind of a fundamental sense of fair play -- all of those things mean that it is just wrong for people not to have a fair shake at getting or retaining a job." - Huffington Post, 11/4/13

Of course Merkley praised and credited his colleagues for helping to make this happen.  But Merkley has done Kennedy proud as being one of the lead Senators in the fight for LGBT rights and equality.  He has a great record to back it up.  Merkley's been involved in helping make marriage equality a reality in Oregon:

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley was among the community leaders participating in the first Summer of Love campaign event.

The campaign is part of the effort to repeal Oregon's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment which limits marriage to heterosexual couples. Marriage equality advocates hope to put the issue before voters in 2014.

Merkley was joined by several hundred volunteers at the event held in the basement of Sunnyside Church in Portland.

Merkley told Oregon Public Radio that the state's civil rights laws were lacking.

“But that framework is incomplete until we allow the full rights of marriage for all our citizens,” Mekley said.

In addition to Merkley, Rev. Chuck Currie, retired Lt. Col. Linda Campbell and Oregon United for Marriage chief petitioner Jeana Frazzini spoke at the event. - On Top Magazine, 6/2/13

He's also been an outspoke critic of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law:

The controversial Russian law is designed to stop “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations around minors.” While the International Olympic Committee and some Russian officials have said the law would not be a problem during the games, contradictory statements by other Russian lawmakers have raised concern.

Linking to one such report that the law will be enforced against foreigners during the games, Merkley tweeted on Thursday, “Outrageous. Olympic discrimination against LGBT athletes and spectators is 100% unacceptable.”

The move comes amid rising tensions with Russia over its granting of NSA leaker Edward Snowden temporary asylum in the country, ignoring U.S. calls for extradition. Lawmakers have called for possibly boycotting the 2014 games, or other meetings in Russia, in response. - Politico, 8/2/13

Merkley, along with Senator Sherrod Brown (D. OH) and Congressman Bruce Braley (D. IA-01) have also been lead voices for the inclusion of LGBT children and scout leaders into the Boy Scouts:

Merkley truly has carried on Kennedy's legacy for LGBT rights and I thank him for his continued work to get ENDA passed through the Senate.  Now I know a lot of you are thinking that ENDA will be DOA once it gets to the house but Jay Carney says there's reason to hopeful:

White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, where he answered a question on the shooting in Nevada before taking questions about President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Carney said that the president is hopeful that ENDA will pass in the Senate as early as tonight. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) announced Monday that he would support the bill, making it likely that the legislation would overcome a filibuster with 60 votes.

While House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) came out against ENDA on Monday, Carney argued that Boehner's disapproval does not necessarily mean the bill was dead. Carney noted that the Violence Against Women Act was granted a vote without full support of the GOP caucus.

"We will prevail as a country on this issue," Carney said. - TPM, 11/4/13

We shall see.  What is clear is Merkley deserves our support in next year's election, especially since the GOP will be gunning for him:

The Republican National Committee on Monday said it's launching robocalls against Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and 10 other Democrats up for re-election, accusing them of lying about the new federal health care law.

Meanwhile, Portland attorney Tim Crawley became the sixth Republican candidate to announce for Merkley's Senate seat.

The robocalls accuse Merkley and the others of repeating President Barack Obama's claim that Americans could keep their health insurance if they wanted to under the new health care law.

"Call Sen. Merkley...and ask why he lied," urges the automated call directed at Oregon voters.  Republicans have been piling on Obama as insurers have been canceling health care policies for many people in the individual market. - The Oregonian, 11/4/13

Please do contribute to Merkley's re-election bid so he can continue to be a strong voice for equality and progressive values in the U.S. Senate:

Originally posted to pdc on Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 07:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Angry Gays, Daily Kos Oregon, Kossacks for Marriage Equality, LGBT Kos Community, Milk Men And Women, Koscadia, PDX Metro, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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