Senate to Hold Hearing on ENDA
Major Step Forward for Key Log Cabin Priority
(WASHINGTON) Senator James Jeffords (R-VT), chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, will preside over the first hearing before the 105th Congress on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) Thursday morning. The hearing will feature a diverse assortment of witnesses, including business representatives, religious and legal experts, and people who have faced anti-gay discrimination.
"Senator Jeffords and the staff of the Labor Committee are working diligently to produce a very balanced and informative hearing," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans.
Among the key witnesses testifying in support of ENDA is Kendall Hamilton, an openly-gay man who was denied a promotion and forced to quit as a waiter at a Red Lobster restaurant in Oklahoma City in 1995, and was told that he "would never be a manager at Red Lobster" because of his sexual orientation. Hamilton's story was brought to the knowledge of the Committee through a Log Cabin member in Texas.
Another key witness will be Tom Grote, chief operating officer for Donatos Pizza, an Ohio-based pizza chain. Tom is a member of the Log Cabin Club of Columbus, and will speak on behalf of his company as a representative of small businesses.
Dr. Hebert Valentine, Executive Presbyter of the Presbyterian Church of Baltimore, will testify on a panel of religious experts. Valentine, who was moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA in 1994 when the church endorsed ENDA, was contacted by the Committee at the suggestion of the national office of Log Cabin Republicans.
Tafel praised the staff of Senator Jeffords and Senator Kennedy for their tenacious work. "The Committee staff is working long hours and have consulted a number of diverse sources in preparing this hearing. They are carrying out their mandate with great skill and absolute fairness to both sides of this issue."
"There has been a great partnership among community organizations in making this hearing possible," Tafel said. "In particular, Winnie Stachelberg and Nancy Buermeyer of the Human Rights Campaign worked very hard behind the scenes and were responsible for bringing two very essential witnesses – Ray Smith of Bell Atlantic and David Horowitz, and attorney from Phoenix, Arizona – to the knowledge of the Committee. This was another example of national groups working together productively, working with Republicans and Democrats, and yielding positive results. For the critics who say that the national groups are not working together enough, this will prove them wrong."