DENVER — Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican fighting to hold on to his seat this fall, took another big step toward the political center on Wednesday when he announced he supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
ENDA, as it’s commonly known, prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“I see this legislation as the workplace equivalent of the Golden Rule — do unto others, as you would have them do unto you,” Coffman said in a statement. “In the workplace, in 2014, we should judge employees the way we would want to be judged — based on our qualifications, our contributions and by our character, period.”
Coffman, who’s facing a tough challenge from Democrat Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn 6th congressional district, has shifted a number of policy positions in the last year, acknowledging that he’s trying to represent a new district.
It started early last year with immigration, as Coffman reversed course in support of a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants and even co-sponsored legislation to open a pathway for those willing to serve in America’s military.
It continued last month, when Coffman clarified that he now opposed personhood, a movement aiming to ban abortion in all cases that he’d previously supported.
On Wednesday, Coffman became one of the first House Republicans to publicly support ENDA, which passed the Senate last year but has stalled in the GOP-controlled House.
For publicly bucking Speaker John Boehner and GOP leadership, Coffman earned plaudits from One Colorado, the state’s LGBT advocacy group, which put out a statement.
“Protecting against discrimination in the workplace isn’t a Democratic or Republican issue – it’s common sense,” said One Colorado’s Dave Montez. “Congressman Coffman’s announcement today in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act brings his views in alignment with a strong majority of Americans who believe that workers should be judged on their job performance alone, and nothing else.
“As a non-partisan organization, we welcome Congressman Coffman’s announcement and commend support for equality across the ideological spectrum. It’s time for Congress to move forward and pass ENDA now, to extend the same basic workplace protections we’ve already passed here in Colorado to all LGBT Americans.”
Colorado Democrats weren’t so complimentary.
“Don’t let Congressman Coffman’s flip flop fool you — he’s never stood up for equal rights,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chair Rick Palacio.
“Colorado Republicans should come with a label: “Warning — GOP candidates are trying to abandon their extreme positions so quickly that voters may suffer whiplash.”
Polls show that a majority of Coloradans support gay marriage and an overwhelming number of them support civil unions.