Congressman Charles Dent (R-Lehigh) continues to be a centrist voice in Congress.
Dent signed a letter on Tuesday that asks House Speaker John Boehner to allow a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would protect against sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.
Dent is one of five House Republicans co-sponsoring this bill, which already passed the Senate with bipartisan support (64-32).
The letter, signed by 10 members of Congress, argues that the ENDA offers fair protection without granting any kind of special advantage.
“Job discrimination against any American creates an uneven playing field that runs contrary to the basic notion of equality and our economic efficiency,” the letter reads. “What matters most is not that we share the exact same beliefs as our coworkers or employees, but that we take pride in our work, respect our coworkers and customers, and get the job done.”
This bipartisan letter serves as an indicator that support for the law is increasing on the right. Pat Toomey was one of 10 Republicans to vote for the ENDA in the Senate.
For Dent, this also appears to be a personal continuation of his attempt to seek middle ground in the increasingly polarized House. Dent drew national attention earlier this fall when he took a stand against House Republicans during the government shutdown. By supporting the ENDA, Congressman Dent is again bucking strict party lines.
This could be trouble for the Congressman from an electoral standpoint, as he opens himself up to criticism from the conservative base. Dent’s district (PA-15) leans Republican, so his biggest challenge is likely to come from the right. His rise to prominence as a moderate during the shutdown and now during ENDA debate may earn him a primary challenger, although so far none has emerged.