Wednesday, October 10, 2007

8 Lips Flapping on ENDA

Never shy, nor cautious. we kicked the ENDA can up and down the hall yesterday during our weekly Left Ahead! podcast. The big bonus was that the guest was civil-rights activist Laurel, who comments regularly at all three of our blogs as well as that other local one, what's its header -- ah, yes, Blue Mass Group.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is an important bill certain to pass the U.S. House by a substantial margin. It aims to add long overdue job protections for GLBT workers and managers. Rather, depending on what form it's in at any moment, that might just be GLB workers and managers.

  • Everyone's most and least favorite current POTUS surely would veto any gay-friendly bill.
  • There is no corresponding ENDA in the U.S. Senate.
  • Lead sponsor U.S. Rep. Barney Frank is clearly conflicted about the bill and eager to decouple the transgender (that troublesome T) from the bill.
Perhaps this could be one example of the dying old-style politics. Like throwing the servants, then the kids off the troika when the pack of wolves closes in, lawmakers love saying half a loaf is better than none and you must be pragmatic and take what you can get from Congress. Compromise and claim victory!

In addition, the Senate rules that require a supermajority of 60 to prevent filibusters have hobbled nearly all progressive platforms in Congress. The horse-trading and rush to dilute good legislation are truly the old way of doing business and many in Congress claim that can't and won't change. Yet, we don't have to foresee very far to note:
  1. In a decade the majority of voters will be the youngest baby boomers and the children of baby boomers. They did not grow up with the old prejudices — race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, immigrants — as the norm for their parents and grandparents. Poll after poll and results where they vote show that they favor equality and live-and-let-live politics. They're a lot harder to manipulate with emotional lies.
  2. A weary, declining nation looks at the devastation of right-wing fantasies of the past seven years. We all know of people who have died in unnecessary wars. We are more fearful for our safety than even in the Cold War. A budget surplus became a multi-trillion-dollar deficit, and our dollar and larger economy are crushing our future hopes.
The political, military and economic blunders and inane policies are obvious failures to an increasing majority of us. Next year, we are almost certain to constitute a Congress and Executive Branch charged with righting our foundering nation.

What a monumental task that will be!

The confluence of a new generation of voters and the awareness of the older ones that so much of our fantasies are just that may reduce the pragmatism of failure that lawmakers say is necessary. We have had such periods before, such as the Progressive Era around WWI. Numerous laws and amendments that made life better for all Americans held sway over the timid and self-interested Reps and Senators. It looks like we're due for another such time.

The ENDA battle is an example. On the compromise side, you can listen to Barney Frank stake out his argument here and a cogent defense of that side was the lead editorial of last week's Bay Windows editorial. Those are powerful sets of reasons. Yet as Laurel noted yesterday, without an ENDA in the Senate and with the POTUS' veto looming, why not pass the right bill, the one including transgender rights, so that when a more honorable Congress assembles, they start with the proper expectations?

Many sources in the MSM as well as blogs have opinions and details on the irksome T on the end of GBLT. The best perspective I round was Monica Roberts at TransGriot. In her Transgender Community Hates HRC post, she provides the background of how many homosexuals, particularly men are uncomfortable with transgender folk and how some actively distance themselves, as Barney Frank has.

The trans community is small and has more problems coming out and being accepted — on the job or anywhere. Of course, that's solid justification for providing an ENDA that includes them.

Roberts makes a solid argument against splitting ENDA into a "'possible" GLB version, promising to add the T version in some unspecified future. She wrote:
So far the only states in which the gay and lesbian community has ‘come back’ for transgender people are Rhode Island (2001), California (2003), New Jersey (2006) and Vermont (2007). In New York they are still having a difficult time passing GENDA after transgender people were cut out of SONDA (N.Y.’s Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act) by gay rights advocating the same ‘we’ll come back for you’ incremental rights spin.
So, you can understand when Barney or the Human Rights Campaign says, "Trust us. We'll protect you...later," that transgender people are skeptical.

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1 comment:

Mark D. Snyder said...

There are now over 280 organizations supporting a united enda.

Frank and Ryan-Vollmar do not represent the vas majority of our community.

Protections based on gender id and expression protect all of us from being discriminated against based on how feminine or masculine we are.

The idea that we can come back for trans rigths later, is just wrong. It never happens. Its a lie that the msot privelaged tell again and again.