Meeting with Representative Cao in New Orleans on ENDA
June 17, 2010
This guest post is from Deb Guidry of HRC"s New Orleans Steering Committee: Members of the New Orleans Political Action and Steering Committees recently had the opportunity to meet with our 2nd Congressional District Rep. Joseph Cao. We thanked him for his support and co-sponsorship of Hate Crimes legislation that passed last year, discussed the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), which he also co-sponsored, and asked for his support and co-sponsorship of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). He was very well informed and educated on all of our issues. He gets discrimination. Our group consisted of committed HRC volunteers: Dr. Jody Gates, Board of Directors and PAC committee member, Regina Matthews, Religion and Faith Sub-Committee member, Patrick Miller, Board of Governors, Steering Committee Co-Chair and myself, Deb Guidry, PAC Co-Chair. When asked for his support of ENDA, Rep. Cao said he is still reviewing the bill, but that he leans towards voting for it and perhaps co-sponsoring. His clear concern was that "nothing gets sneaked in the bill." He says he is the only Member of Congress who read every page of the health care bill--over 1000 pages. We also discussed issues around tax equity and the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which would provide the same family benefits to lesbian and gay federal civilian employees as are already provided to employees with different-sex spouses. While Rep. Cao feels that discrimination is wrong and needs to be righted, he said he struggles with his Catholic upbringing and deep religious faith regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and said in no uncertain terms he could not support the repeal. Overall Rep. Cao is well-liked by his constituents and is considered to be fair and truly concerned with his district. He is a Republican in a predominately Democratic district and will face a huge challenge as he seeks to secure a second term. We were very grateful to him and his staff both in DC and New Orleans for always making the effort to meet with us.