Monica Wehby Struggles To Answer Whether She Supports ENDA

06/28/2014 04:44 pm ET | Updated Jun 28, 2014
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Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby's campaign reaffirmed her support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act Friday evening, even though Wehby refused to say whether she supported it during an interview with a conservative radio host earlier in the day.

"Monica supports ENDA, just like 10 other Republican senators," Michael Antonopoulos, Wehby's campaign manager, said in a statement to The Oregonian.

ENDA would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from workplace discrimination. The legislation has added importance in the Oregon Senate race because Wehby's opponent, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), was the sponsor of the bill when it passed the Senate last year in a bipartisan vote. It has not yet been taken up in the House.

Wehby came out in support of ENDA on June 16, with her then-campaign manager Charlie Pearce saying she "believes that everybody should be treated equally under the law."

But Wehby was less sure Friday during an interview with conservative radio host Lars Larson.

"I don't believe people should be discriminated [against] for any, any reason, regardless of race, sexual preference," said Wehby when asked her position on the legislation. She added, however, that it is important to "protect our businesses as well" to ensure there aren't "tons of frivolous lawsuits out there."

When Larson noted that she had already come out in favor of the bill, Wehby responded, "I came out in favor of the fact that we should not be discriminating against people for any reason."

Larson continued to press her, asking Wehby straight up, "Are you in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act?"

Wehby, despite her June 16 endorsement, said, "I haven't read every single aspect of this legislation. But as a general concept, I do not believe we should be discriminating against others."

Merkley campaign spokesman Jamal Raad told The Oregonian that Wehby was "either pandering to conservative media or flip-flopping."

Antonopoulos, however, insisted Wehby's support for the bill is firm.

In 2013, Merkley had the Government Accountability Office investigate what effect ENDA would have on businesses. It concluded that in states with LGBT workplace protections, "there were relatively few employment discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation and gender identity filed."

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