WEBVTT 00:00:01.000 --> 00:00:31.000 music. 00:00:31.000 --> 00:00:33.000 Jeff Merkley: It's a real pleasure to come by and connect with you all, 00:00:33.000 --> 00:00:41.000 to discuss the equality act but I thought I'd give kind of the background that led to it. 00:00:41.000 --> 00:00:47.000 And the background starts in the Oregon State Legislator. 00:00:47.000 --> 00:00:54.000 And when I joined the legislator, it was 1999, and 00:00:54.000 --> 00:00:60.000 previous to that we had a series of initiatives in Oregon 00:01:00.000 --> 00:01:13.000 by a group called Oregon Citizen's Alliance, they were all about taking about rights and about creating discrimination for our LGBT community. 00:01:13.000 --> 00:01:19.000 And my goal was to advance equality. 00:01:19.000 --> 00:01:29.000 I think our fundamental constitution in our country was about equality about opportunity, about each individual person to pursue happiness. 00:01:29.000 --> 00:01:34.000 And you can't do that if you're discriminated against. And our constitution was imperfect, 00:01:34.000 --> 00:01:39.000 it had imbedded in it all kinds of discrimination, discrimination against women, against Native Americans, 00:01:39.000 --> 00:01:41.000 against African Americans, 00:01:41.000 --> 00:01:51.000 and so forth, but over time we have been advancing to kind of capture the spirit behind that initial vision, 00:01:51.000 --> 00:01:56.000 but it's been a journey of step by step by step. 00:01:56.000 --> 00:01:61.000 When I was born it was 1956, 00:02:01.000 --> 00:02:07.000 And in 1956, in the deep South, you would have still had the Jim Crow system. 00:02:07.000 --> 00:02:11.000 You would not have yet had the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 00:02:11.000 --> 00:02:17.000 You would not have had most of the lunch counter protests that began in the late 50s. 00:02:17.000 --> 00:02:20.000 Or the marches that continued on into the 60s. 00:02:20.000 --> 00:02:24.000 You wouldn't have had Martin Luther King having yet spoken yet on the mall. 00:02:24.000 --> 00:02:30.000 And so forth, so in my life time we've seen a big advance. 00:02:30.000 --> 00:02:33.000 But when I came to the state legislator, 00:02:33.000 --> 00:02:44.000 The legislator had a majority in control of it on both the house and senate side. So in Salem, they were not interested in equality. 00:02:44.000 --> 00:02:52.000 And in 2003, I was very frustrated with our state government. 00:02:52.000 --> 00:02:59.000 The way I saw it is we had a, and I'll just say it, and it shouldn't be this way but it was a republican 00:02:59.000 --> 00:02:64.000 majority in the house and senate that was not interested in advancing opportunity and equality. 00:03:04.000 --> 00:03:08.000 We had a democratic governor, Governor Kitzhaber. 00:03:08.000 --> 00:03:12.000 But he could only sign bills that were delivered to him by the legislator. 00:03:12.000 --> 00:03:24.000 And there were a whole host issues that I felt we were losing out on in terms of jobs and opportunity. 00:03:24.000 --> 00:03:34.000 So I talked to my wife Mary and said, you know, we have a citizen legislator, I have a full time job as well as serving as a legislator, 00:03:34.000 --> 00:03:45.000 and either I should maybe not run for election again, so I could just concentrate on my work with the World Affairs Council of Oregon. 00:03:45.000 --> 00:03:49.000 And our children, who were very small at that time. 00:03:49.000 --> 00:03:56.000 Or maybe I should quit my paid job with the World Affairs Council and try to do something about that paralysis in Salem. 00:03:56.000 --> 00:03:62.000 And Mary's response really changed my life, she said "Whichever you'd like to d, I'm with you, I will back you up" 00:04:02.000 --> 00:04:06.000 And so the next day, I quit my job at the World Affairs Council, 00:04:06.000 --> 00:04:12.000 And I didn't know what I was going to do exactly, I wasn't in leadership of the Oregon house, I just 00:04:12.000 --> 00:04:19.000 felt I'd have to find an opportunity and maybe it would be working on a ballot measure. 00:04:19.000 --> 00:04:24.000 But shortly thereafter, the democratic leader 00:04:24.000 --> 00:04:32.000 decided to step down and I decided to run for that leadership position even though I hadn't been part of leadership. 00:04:32.000 --> 00:04:39.000 And it was kind of a shock to me that I won that election within the caucus. 00:04:39.000 --> 00:04:44.000 And I set about an intensive two election cycle effort, 00:04:44.000 --> 00:04:51.000 to put in place a very different majority in the Oregon House. 00:04:51.000 --> 00:04:56.000 And I said before a group, 00:05:12.000 --> 00:05:18.000 And low and behold, by one vote, 31 house seats to 29 house seats, 00:05:18.000 --> 00:05:21.000 we succeeded in getting the majority, 00:05:21.000 --> 00:05:31.000 and then various folks said "well that's such an ambitious agenda, you can't do that, you've been in the minority for 16 years, now you're in the majority, you're going to scare everyone," 00:05:31.000 --> 00:05:36.000 And I said to the folks, "well, you know what, we're going to do it in the Oregon house." 00:05:36.000 --> 00:05:42.000 The governor will have to decide what he wants to do and the senate will have to decide what it wants to do, 00:05:42.000 --> 00:05:45.000 but I said we're going to do this, and we're going to do it" and we did. 00:05:45.000 --> 00:05:50.000 Now we had at that time in our constitution, 00:05:50.000 --> 00:05:55.000 a definition of marriage that meant that we could not do the word marriage, 00:05:55.000 --> 00:05:63.000 we could do domestic partnerships or civil unions that were in law the parallel of rights, but we could not use the word marriage. 00:06:03.000 --> 00:06:09.000 And that was true until the courts threw that out quite recently. 00:06:09.000 --> 00:06:14.000 And then after the courts threw it out here in Oregon, 00:06:14.000 --> 00:06:23.000 of course we won the marriage right nationally not long there after. 00:06:23.000 --> 00:06:28.000 During that battle it was very interesting because it was 00:06:28.000 --> 00:06:31.000 very hostile and very emotional. 00:06:31.000 --> 00:06:36.000 I remember driving into the underground parking in the capital, 00:06:36.000 --> 00:06:45.000 and having people kind of rap on my windshield, and hold placards in front of my windshield and yell and scream at me and say what a terrible person I was. 00:06:45.000 --> 00:06:49.000 But I felt like a very good person. 00:06:49.000 --> 00:06:58.000 I thought this is the right thing, not just in terms of our constitutional vision of fairness of opportunity and equality, 00:06:58.000 --> 00:06:62.000 but the right thing in terms of just fundamental human rights. 00:07:02.000 --> 00:07:08.000 And so we succeeded in those two efforts. 00:07:08.000 --> 00:07:19.000 and that was in the year 2007. At the end of that 2007 session, that 6 month session, I decided to run for the US senate. 00:07:19.000 --> 00:07:25.000 And I disagreed with the incumbent senator about a host of issues. 00:07:25.000 --> 00:07:31.000 But one of them I disagreed about was the issue of equality. 00:07:31.000 --> 00:07:38.000 And so I hoped I could add a voice to the US senate, 00:07:38.000 --> 00:07:45.000 that would be a voice in favor of equality and nobody thought it was conceivable that I could win that election. 00:07:45.000 --> 00:07:49.000 There was no a single person in the legislator who wanted me to do it. 00:07:49.000 --> 00:07:52.000 They kept saying it was political suicide. 00:07:52.000 --> 00:07:57.000 You should stay where you are, you should run for this other different office in the future, you should do this or that, 00:07:57.000 --> 00:07:60.000 but you're just committing political suicide, don't do it. 00:08:00.000 --> 00:08:05.000 And I said well, you know what, a democracy needs competition of ideas. 00:08:05.000 --> 00:08:09.000 Competition of views, here are the incumbent's views, 00:08:09.000 --> 00:08:12.000 here are my views, they are very different. 00:08:12.000 --> 00:08:19.000 And the two congressmen who had decided to run, both decided not to run at the last minute because 00:08:19.000 --> 00:08:22.000 it was largely thought to be such an unwinable race. 00:08:22.000 --> 00:08:30.000 So it meant that there wasn't going to be that contest of ideas unless somebody else stepped in with a vigorous campaign. 00:08:30.000 --> 00:08:33.000 So I decided to do that. 00:08:33.000 --> 00:08:39.000 And once you get into the arena, anything can happen. 00:08:39.000 --> 00:08:46.000 You never know what's going to happen and in this case the tide turned in a favorable direction, 00:08:46.000 --> 00:08:50.000 President, then Senator Obama was running. 00:08:50.000 --> 00:08:55.000 We had more registration that expected, running in the direction I believed in. 00:08:55.000 --> 00:08:59.000 We had more voter turn out. And I won by 3 percent. 00:08:59.000 --> 00:08:63.000 I sought out Senator Ted Kennedy. 00:09:03.000 --> 00:09:10.000 And I said I want to be a member of the Health Education and Labor committee. 00:09:10.000 --> 00:09:14.000 Your committee and he said he'd get back to me. 00:09:14.000 --> 00:09:19.000 And it was a couple weeks later, I had a voicemail on phone from Ted Kennedy saying 00:09:26.000 --> 00:09:34.000 And one of my regrets in life is I didn't record that in some other way so after 30 days it was extinguished. 00:09:34.000 --> 00:09:41.000 But I didn't have long to overlap with Senator Kennedy because he was ill, in 2009 he was ill. 00:09:41.000 --> 00:09:46.000 And he was starting to look along with his team, 00:09:46.000 --> 00:09:52.000 for individuals in the senate who would be the champions of things he held near and dear to his heart. 00:09:52.000 --> 00:09:56.000 And one of the things he'd held near and dear to his heart was the employment nondiscrimination act. 00:09:56.000 --> 00:09:62.000 He had introduced it in 1994. It had been voted on in 1996. 00:10:02.000 --> 00:10:07.000 It had lost by 1 vote. Because back then not that long ago, 00:10:07.000 --> 00:10:12.000 the senate did not require super majority even on controversial legislation, it was very rare. 00:10:12.000 --> 00:10:15.000 And so you only needed 50 votes and they had 49. 00:10:15.000 --> 00:10:21.000 And the opposition didn't have 51, they had 50. There was a missing senator. 00:10:21.000 --> 00:10:29.000 Senator Pryor as visiting his son in the hospital who had bone cancer. 00:10:29.000 --> 00:10:34.000 His son then became Senator Pryor and I served with Senator Mark Pryor 00:10:34.000 --> 00:10:37.000 in the senate. 00:10:37.000 --> 00:10:43.000 But had the father been there that day for that vote it would have been 50/50. 00:10:43.000 --> 00:10:51.000 And Vice President Gore, the president of the senator of the constitution would have broken the tie and it would have been 51 to 50. 00:10:51.000 --> 00:10:56.000 And it would have passed. This shows you that there are windows of opportunity. 00:10:56.000 --> 00:10:62.000 And if you don't seize them it might be a long time before that window of opportunity comes again. 00:11:02.000 --> 00:11:10.000 So in 2009, this bill had never again been voted on on the floor of this senate from 1996 through 2009. 00:11:10.000 --> 00:11:18.000 And then I got a call from the team, the Health Education Team, Ted Kennedy's team and they said, 00:11:29.000 --> 00:11:32.000 And I can tell you as a freshmen senator, 00:11:32.000 --> 00:11:35.000 that was an incredible honor. 00:11:35.000 --> 00:11:41.000 And a huge responsibility. 00:11:41.000 --> 00:11:45.000 And I started to go to work on this. I agreed to do it, 00:11:45.000 --> 00:11:52.000 But I first clarified that I will agree to champion this, to carry this organizing effort, 00:11:52.000 --> 00:11:58.000 only if it's completely agreed among all the parties, 00:11:58.000 --> 00:11:63.000 that were not going to run a wedge down the middle. 00:12:03.000 --> 00:12:07.000 We're not going to leave behind our transexual community. 00:12:07.000 --> 00:12:13.000 We didn't leave them behind in Oregon and I'm not going to be apart of leaving them behind in the US senate. And that was agreed. 00:12:13.000 --> 00:12:24.000 So I undertook it, we progressed from advocacy to hearings because now we're in a setting where we need 60 votes, not 50. 00:12:24.000 --> 00:12:27.000 Plus a vice president. We need 60. 00:12:27.000 --> 00:12:29.000 Much tougher to acquire. 00:12:29.000 --> 00:12:33.000 And the parties had become more polarized. 00:12:33.000 --> 00:12:36.000 And so that's added to the difficulty. 00:12:36.000 --> 00:12:44.000 But finally in 2013, we were able to get that bill to the floor of the senate. 00:12:44.000 --> 00:12:51.000 And I felt it was time to force people to take a vote. We had 40 plus folks who said yes, they're with us. 00:12:51.000 --> 00:12:53.000 But we didn't have 60. 00:12:53.000 --> 00:12:57.000 And there were a lot of people who didn't want to take a position. 00:12:57.000 --> 00:12:63.000 They wanted to duck the issue as long as they possibly could, they figured it was controversy back home, 00:13:03.000 --> 00:13:11.000 in a way that would possibly won friends here and opponents here and they just preferred to not face it. 00:13:11.000 --> 00:13:19.000 So I said the only way that we're going to allow the citizens to engage with their senators, 00:13:19.000 --> 00:13:21.000 is to force the senators to take a position. 00:13:21.000 --> 00:13:25.000 And so that's what we did. once it got on the floor, I was very nervous. 00:13:25.000 --> 00:13:29.000 Because you don't want to lose. 00:13:29.000 --> 00:13:32.000 And I knew we didn't have 60 votes yet. 00:13:32.000 --> 00:13:40.000 And so it was a very intense effort, in the end we did get the 60 votes, we got several republicans to join us. 00:13:40.000 --> 00:13:43.000 And that was exhilarating. 00:13:43.000 --> 00:13:49.000 That the senate would take a stand in employment against discrimination. 00:13:49.000 --> 00:13:57.000 Because if folks believe that it's wrong to discriminate in the work place, don't they also believe it's wrong to discriminate in the theatre? 00:13:57.000 --> 00:13:63.000 Or in the restaurant? Or in financial mortgages? 00:14:03.000 --> 00:14:06.000 Or in jury selection? 00:14:06.000 --> 00:14:11.000 Another words, while we focused on employment it set the vision 00:14:11.000 --> 00:14:15.000 of ending discrimination across the broad set of issues. 00:14:15.000 --> 00:14:20.000 that were covered in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 00:14:20.000 --> 00:14:28.000 Unfortunately, the house of representative refused to have a floor debate on this bill. 00:14:28.000 --> 00:14:37.000 The House of Representative was lead by the other party, the republican party, which was not willing to do this. 00:14:37.000 --> 00:14:42.000 We felt that we had the votes in the House of Representatives, 00:14:42.000 --> 00:14:49.000 but to win the vote it has to be held and the leadership of the house refused to do so. 00:14:49.000 --> 00:14:55.000 So, I went to work, pushing the administration, 00:14:55.000 --> 00:14:62.000 on a parallel track to end discrimination by US government contractors employment discrimination. 00:15:02.000 --> 00:15:07.000 I'd pushed it before the vote and I'd pushed it after the vote and after about a year passed the administration said okay 00:15:07.000 --> 00:15:17.000 we've given the house a fair time to address the bill, it's clear they're not going to, and now we will make it the law, 00:15:17.000 --> 00:15:20.000 that government contractors cannot discriminate. 00:15:20.000 --> 00:15:25.000 The wonderful thing about this is in all the states, 00:15:25.000 --> 00:15:29.000 where they had not had a state legislator that had wrestled, 00:15:29.000 --> 00:15:38.000 with establishing a fairness in employment, it meant that suddenly there were government contractors of all kinds, 00:15:38.000 --> 00:15:41.000 there were 24,000 government contractors scattered through our 50 states, 00:15:41.000 --> 00:15:53.000 and virtually every state, no matter how conservative has major contractors who, either they're military contractors or who knows what else, they make all kinds of products for the US government. 00:15:53.000 --> 00:15:61.000 Well, they all had to end discrimination, so that was a real victory. 00:16:01.000 --> 00:16:07.000 So then we got together and I say we, the community that was fighting for equality, 00:16:07.000 --> 00:16:13.000 and we said, what are we going to do next? Are we going to go back to trying to repass 00:16:13.000 --> 00:16:17.000 the employment nondiscrimination or going to simply make a broader bill, 00:16:17.000 --> 00:16:23.000 and we decided it was time to talk differently about this. 00:16:23.000 --> 00:16:29.000 It was time not to talk about chipping away here or there. 00:16:29.000 --> 00:16:38.000 it was time to simply say, our LGBT community deserves the same fundamental laws against discrimination that are enjoyed 00:16:38.000 --> 00:16:44.000 by Americans in regard to gender and ethnicity and race. 00:16:44.000 --> 00:16:48.000 And that's the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 00:16:48.000 --> 00:16:51.000 And so the bill that I wrote, 00:16:51.000 --> 00:16:56.000 is about utilizing the 1964 Civil Rights Act as a foundation, 00:16:56.000 --> 00:16:62.000 and placing nondiscrimination measures directly and it benefits therefore by the whole lengthy 00:17:02.000 --> 00:17:09.000 court adjudication that had occurred over issues that are embedded in the '64 Civil Rights Act. 00:17:09.000 --> 00:17:12.000 And we kicked off the bill last year, 00:17:12.000 --> 00:17:16.000 it was quite exciting to kick it off. 00:17:16.000 --> 00:17:19.000 We had 40 senators who signed up as original cosponsors. 00:17:19.000 --> 00:17:23.000 Which we couldn't have envisioned a few years ago. 00:17:23.000 --> 00:17:27.000 And we were in the Linden B Johnson room. 00:17:27.000 --> 00:17:29.000 Of the capital, and that room looks out at the Supreme Court. 00:17:29.000 --> 00:17:37.000 And so on the wall is a picture of majority leader Johnson, 00:17:37.000 --> 00:17:39.000 who then became President Johnson, 00:17:39.000 --> 00:17:43.000 who was deeply involved in the '64 Civil Right Act, 00:17:43.000 --> 00:17:48.000 and so between his picture and the view of the supreme court, 00:17:48.000 --> 00:17:55.000 it really felt like we were tuning into the best of our American tradition 00:17:55.000 --> 00:17:59.000 of moving forward against discrimination. 00:17:59.000 --> 00:17:68.000 And standing with me there before this huge, so, I walk into this room and the room is smaller than this room, 00:18:08.000 --> 00:18:14.000 It there was a square inside this room it might be about the same size, 00:18:14.000 --> 00:18:22.000 There's this bank of cameras straight across the entire room for the left edge to the right edge, 00:18:22.000 --> 00:18:29.000 and then we have a group of advocates several of whom are going to speak, 00:18:29.000 --> 00:18:35.000 and standing beside me is John Lewis who is a champion of the Civil Rights Movement 00:18:35.000 --> 00:18:41.000 It was John Lewis who was beaten up on Bloody Tuesday, 00:18:41.000 --> 00:18:47.000 Excuse me, Bloody Sunday, going over the Edmund Pettus Bridge out of Selma, Alabama. 00:18:47.000 --> 00:18:53.000 And he had been a powerful figure for equality. 00:18:53.000 --> 00:18:61.000 And so I thought, how it is that Jeff Merkley, son of mechanic, state legislator, 00:19:01.000 --> 00:19:07.000 speaker from Oregon, if suddenly kicking off this major batlte for equality? 00:19:07.000 --> 00:19:15.000 But now you know how it happened as I've described it, it's a fight that I've always believed in, and that I was willing to lead others in, 00:19:15.000 --> 00:19:22.000 and events lined up in that fashion. Now we haven't passed this bill. 00:19:22.000 --> 00:19:30.000 I don't think that my republican majority colleagues are going to hold a hearing on the bill. 00:19:30.000 --> 00:19:35.000 I don't think they're going to allow it to be considered as amendment on the floor of the senate. 00:19:35.000 --> 00:19:37.000 So what are we going in the meantime? 00:19:37.000 --> 00:19:41.000 We are building a stronger collation. We are recruiting companies, 00:19:41.000 --> 00:19:45.000 to endorse, we are recruiting organizations to endorse it, 00:19:45.000 --> 00:19:56.000 I think we're now up to about 20 fortune 500 companies that have endorsed it. We'd like that to be 200 fortune 500 companies to endorse it. 00:19:57.000 --> 00:19:65.000 And we're going to work with our republican colleagues who want to be part of this and finally I got my first republican here last week, 00:20:05.000 --> 00:20:13.000 So Mark Kirk of Illinois who had been a partner with me on the nondiscrimination act, and who I almost had on the day we launched this bill, 00:20:13.000 --> 00:20:18.000 it was this close, and his staff kind of pulled him away from it 00:20:18.000 --> 00:20:24.000 Which, sometimes you think the staff kind of runs the senate rather than the senators running the senate. 00:20:24.000 --> 00:20:32.000 But he thought about it, he wrestled with it and he endorsed it. 00:20:32.000 --> 00:20:35.000 So we can now call now call it a bipartisan bill. 00:20:35.000 --> 00:20:45.000 In the house, I think we're still waiting on the for the first republican to get on it, though we are actively searching for one to break that barrier. 00:20:45.000 --> 00:20:53.000 So I think it'll just stop there, and say that's the story of the equality act where we are right now, and how I got involve in it. 00:20:53.000 --> 00:20:57.000 So the question was, what is the next step in the process? 00:20:57.000 --> 00:20:61.000 And really the next step right now is building awareness of it. 00:21:01.000 --> 00:21:07.000 Getting citizens to lobby their house and senate members to become cosponsors. 00:21:07.000 --> 00:21:12.000 And getting the corporate world to endorse it. 00:21:12.000 --> 00:21:18.000 Because if you come from a state where several of your major corporations have endorsed the bill, 00:21:18.000 --> 00:21:24.000 that gives you kind of room to talk about it and say look it has support of the business community. 00:21:24.000 --> 00:21:26.000 And if it has the support of other organizations, 00:21:26.000 --> 00:21:29.000 Urban League has now endorsed the bill, 00:21:29.000 --> 00:21:38.000 I'm working with the NAACP, they have not yet endorsed the bill but we expect them to, we hope they will, within a coming year. 00:21:38.000 --> 00:21:44.000 And so forth. La Raza, I believe La Raza endorsed the bill. 00:21:44.000 --> 00:21:51.000 I'd have to double check that but and so forth. So both organizations and companies. 00:21:51.000 --> 00:21:56.000 Alyssa's question is, she was sharing her personal story of being fired 00:21:56.000 --> 00:21:66.000 and that the firing came just upon because the new manager saw a rainbow ribbon, 00:22:06.000 --> 00:22:11.000 asked if you were gay, you said yes, and he sent you home for the day and then fired you. 00:22:11.000 --> 00:22:21.000 And the core of the questions was how will the equality act help if the Oregon's Employment Act didn't help? 00:22:21.000 --> 00:22:27.000 Now the question I would have back to you Alyssa is did you go back to the Bureau of Labor with your story? 00:22:27.000 --> 00:22:29.000 Alyssa: I didn't. 00:22:29.000 --> 00:22:39.000 Jeff Merkley: I believe, had you done so, they would have launched an investigation and that 00:22:39.000 --> 00:22:45.000 employers can be fined a reason forced in Oregon. 00:22:45.000 --> 00:22:54.000 And so it ideally in a situation like that, the 00:22:54.000 --> 00:22:58.000 Bureau of Labor would have talked to the employer, and I'm not a lawyer by the way, 00:22:58.000 --> 00:22:63.000 so I'll just share my general understanding, Brad Avakian our Labor Commissioner could explain in detail, 00:23:03.000 --> 00:23:10.000 They would have looked into it, and if it turned out that it was quite clear that you were fired for that reason, 00:23:10.000 --> 00:23:17.000 probably you would have filed a suit and then the suit would have been settled 00:23:17.000 --> 00:23:23.000 And the likely outcome is they would have reemployed you and paid a penalty and a fine. 00:23:23.000 --> 00:23:38.000 And so I think it has worked in Oregon, largely. But of course one has to pursue it to let people know that an injustice has occurred. 00:23:38.000 --> 00:23:46.000 The equality act would not really change the mechanisms. 00:23:46.000 --> 00:23:54.000 But it was do would give every American the same power that one has under Oregon Sate law now in terms of employment. 00:23:54.000 --> 00:23:57.000 or accommodations, by public accommodations. 00:23:57.000 --> 00:23:61.000 I mean, resultants, theaters and housing. 00:24:01.000 --> 00:24:06.000 And so it would simply set that same standard and give those same rights across the country. 00:24:06.000 --> 00:24:14.000 Dan asked if the possibility for passing the equality act is better in a non election year. 00:24:14.000 --> 00:24:22.000 And second of all, would the current speaking of the house Paul Ryan, be more likely to give it an opportunity on the floor, 00:24:22.000 --> 00:24:28.000 if he had more substantial republican support. 00:24:28.000 --> 00:24:37.000 So, in terms of a non election year, it's often much easier through a whole range of legislation, because for one thing 00:24:37.000 --> 00:24:41.000 you have, in an election year, members who are home campaigning. 00:24:41.000 --> 00:24:46.000 And they want to avoid anything they think might be controversial. 00:24:46.000 --> 00:24:50.000 So you have a little bit more space in a non election year, 00:24:50.000 --> 00:24:62.000 for issues, you also have more legislative days because the senate this year has fewer legislative days scheduled I'm told than just about any time since World War II. 00:25:02.000 --> 00:25:07.000 This is because the majority party in the senate 00:25:07.000 --> 00:25:12.000 had so many senators up for reelection, and they want to be home campaigning, they don't want to be legislating. 00:25:12.000 --> 00:25:18.000 In terms of whether Paul Ryan would allow a vote in the senate, 00:25:18.000 --> 00:25:21.000 on the equality act, I think we are a long ways away from that, 00:25:21.000 --> 00:25:30.000 Election year, non election year, we would need a sizable number of republicans to become sponsors, 00:25:30.000 --> 00:25:38.000 and part of the reason that this is going to be an extended battle I believe, 00:25:38.000 --> 00:25:43.000 is that battle lines have been drawn. 00:25:43.000 --> 00:25:49.000 For example, someone came to my town hall, and they referenced the case of Gresham 00:25:49.000 --> 00:25:55.000 wedding cake maker and said shouldn't that wedding cake maker, 00:25:55.000 --> 00:25:63.000 be able to decide who, well it's a couple, so he and she, so who he and she 00:26:03.000 --> 00:26:09.000 want to serve based on their precepts of what kind of weddings they consider legitimate. 00:26:09.000 --> 00:26:15.000 And aren't you discriminating against their ability to practice their religion, 00:26:15.000 --> 00:26:17.000 in supporting the equality act? 00:26:17.000 --> 00:26:25.000 And I said, "well here's the way it works, freedom of religion, you get to worship as you want." 00:26:37.000 --> 00:26:41.000 if you will, the color of their skin, or their ethnicity, 00:26:41.000 --> 00:26:46.000 or their gender "And I'm going to slam the door on the next person because I don't like them and I want to discriminate against them" 00:26:46.000 --> 00:26:49.000 No, that's the whole point. 00:26:49.000 --> 00:26:53.000 When you choose to enter the public sphere to offer your goods, 00:26:53.000 --> 00:26:57.000 you must offer them equally to everyone. 00:26:57.000 --> 00:26:61.000 And so I said in this very conservative county at this town hall, 00:27:01.000 --> 00:27:11.000 I said "And so that's what's right and that's what I'm fighting for, is an end to discrimination so every citizen can have the same opportunity" 00:27:17.000 --> 00:27:26.000 But the opposite side of that argument has been taken by many and is advanced by many and I don't think we're going to resolve this 00:27:26.000 --> 00:27:31.000 within or year or two. I do believe we'll resolve it within a decade. 00:27:31.000 --> 00:27:36.000 And I'd like to shorten that to a very brief period of time. 00:27:36.000 --> 00:27:41.000 I believe that if we, that is if you get a majority, 00:27:41.000 --> 00:27:48.000 party that can control the committee hearings and floor votes, if we get that party that is supportive of this 00:27:48.000 --> 00:27:53.000 and unfortunately it is partisan and it is the democratic party that is fighting for this, 00:27:53.000 --> 00:27:61.000 if we get the majority of the US House and Senate, I believe we will pass, the first year we take the majority, we will pass the Equality Act. 00:28:01.000 --> 00:28:13.000 music.