As CNN reports, the Employee Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) passed a Senate vote yesterday with more Republicans continuing to join Democrats in support:
For the first time, the U.S. Senate approved legislation that would protect gay, lesbian and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace.
The Employment Nondiscrimination Act, or ENDA, passed the Democratic-led chamber on Thursday, 64 to 32. Ten Republicans joined 52 Democrats and two Independents in supporting the bill. Four Senators did not vote.
Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake became the latest GOP members to support the measure. They joined Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Susan Collins of Maine, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and the bill's co-sponsor, Mark Kirk of Illinois.
"The workplace is simply no place for discrimination," Collins said before the vote.
Opposition in the Republican-controlled House is strong, minimizing any chance the measure will become law. House Speaker John Boehner also opposes it.
Senate passage of ENDA is certainly an important landmark for the long-overdue legislation, though as CNN notes, it probably won't become law anytime soon under the current makeup of the House of Representatives.
What Senate passage of ENDA will also do, however, is give more of a forum to the lunatic ravings of Colorado Springs' own Gordon Klingenschmitt, also known as "Dr. Chaps" (a handy nickname to have when your last name is almost too long for Twitter).
A former Navy chaplain, Dr. Chaps has gained a manner of infamy on the Internet for his aggressively bizarre anti-gay beliefs. Dr. Chaps has claimed to have performed more than 50 "exorcisms" of gay and lesbian individuals, and says he has a 50-percent success rate in curing "gayness." You can imagine how he feels about ENDA, but should your imagination fail you, here's Raw Story reporting on an email Dr. Chaps sent to his followers in late October:
Klingenschmitt warned in the email that under ENDA, the federal government will “jail the Christians who refuse to celebrate gay weddings” and “bankrupt Christian employers.”
Klingenschmitt went on to warn that the rights of homeowners will no longer count if ENDA is passed and that people will be forced to allow anyone of any orientation to barge into their homes and engage in any form of coitus they like. As evidence, he cited that case of a British bed and breakfast owner who refused to allow a same sex couple to stay in his home as guests.
The couple sued and won, alleging discrimination. According to “Dr. Chaps,” this means, “the militant gays essentially demand ‘let us have sex in your house, or we will kick you out of your house.’"
Ah, yes, beware the "militant gays."
So what does this have to do with Colorado Politics, you ask? Klingenschmitt announced in late October that he is running for HD-15, the Colorado Springs seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Waller (who is running for Attorney General). This is the same seat that was once held by Doug Bruce, who was so disliked even by his fellow Republicans that the GOP recruited Waller to take him out in a primary. As fate would have it, Klingenschmitt could be a bigger problem for the GOP than Bruce should he manage to get through a Republican primary (Dave Williams and Michael Kuhn have both filed to run on the GOP side as well).
Dr. Chaps' anti-gay rantings may play well in parts of Colorado Springs, but he would be a serious black eye for Republicans hoping to regain support from more moderate Colorado voters. Even if he doesn't make it out of a Republican primary, Klingenschmitt has access to enough of an audience (he is a frequent guest on right-wing and evangelical TV and radio programs) to become a serious distraction for the GOP — particularly as Republicans try to find their nominees for Governor and U.S. Senate, respectively.