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Republican mayors urge passage of LGBT nondiscrimination bill

The Wisconsin Gazette

A group of Republican mayors — including Appleton Mayor Timothy Hanna — is encouraging the GOP-led House to pass a bill to ban workplace discrimination against LGBT people.

The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, announced the endorsement of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed with bi-partisan support in the U.S. Senate but then stalled in the U.S. House, where Republican leaders have refused to allow any action.

In recent weeks, support has fizzled for the bill among civil rights leaders concerned about its broad religious exemptions, especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that businesses can have religious beliefs.

However, the president, Senate leaders, Democrats in the House and some advocacy groups want to see ENDA enacted this year.

To reach that goal, Log Cabin Republicans launched a campaign to collect endorsements from Republicans across the U.S.

“In a workplace environment, people should be judged on their merit and the quality of their work product,” Mayor Brian Smith of Irvington, New York, said in a news release on July 30. “This is an issue that started for me 40 years ago when one of the greatest Mayors, Ed Koch, was pushing for this while he was in Congress. The fact that it hasn’t been passed in 40 years is a disgrace. I believe history will look poorly on anyone who doesn’t support ENDA, whether it’s 50 years from now or 10 years from now. America is — and should be — a place where the freedom to be who you are should not be a barrier to your ability to have a job and provide for your family.”

Log Cabin Republicans executive director Gregory T. Angelo said, “Right now, in a majority of states, there are no state laws prohibiting an employer from firing or refusing to hire someone simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is time for the House to hear the message of these Republican mayors: pass ENDA now and give all hard-working Americans the workplace protections they deserve.”

Republican mayors backing ENDA include, in alphabetical order:

• Scott Avedisian of Warwick, Rhode Island.

• Robert Blais of Lake George, New York.

• Dale Berman of North Aurora, Illinois.

• Jim Brainard of Carmel, Indiana.

• William Brown of Riverton, New Jersey.

• Kevin Burns of Geneva, Illinois.

• Frank Catalina of Peekskill, New York.

• Suzette Cooke of Kent, Washington.

• John Dennis of West Lafayette, Indiana.

• Nicholas DeSantis of New Stanton, Pennsylvania.

• Mark Epley of Southampton, New York.

• Timothy Hanna of Appleton, Wisconsin.

• Sophie Heymann of Closter, New Jersey.

• Scott Kaupin of Enfield, Connecticut.

• Marvin Natiss of North Hills, New York.

• Michael Nohilly of Interlaken, New Jersey.

• Sarah Reinhardt of Spring Park, Minnesota.

• Angelo “Skip” Saviano of Elmwood Park, Illinois.

• Sarah Sherwood of Abbeville, South Carolina.

• Brian Smith of Irvington, New York.

• Jill Techel of Napa, California.

• Pam Triolo of Lake Worth, Florida.

• Bruce Kennedy of Sea Cliff, New York.