Donna's ENDABlog

Welcome to my ENDABlog -

I have separated this thread from the rest of my blog because it seems to be taking over the entire thing lately.  Like a weed.  This is my attempt to prune.

There are many good places on the web to get ENDA information, observation, and opinion, so I'm going to do my best to avoid duplicating what others are already doing well.  I'll try to put unique information here.

I'll be adding links, thoughts, updates, and rants here over the next few weeks as the ENDA situation continues to unfold. 

Additional ENDA "Stuff":

1. ENDA: My Response to the HRC Board Decision (10/3/2007) : Donna's Resignation Letter
2. After ENDA:  Statement on the Passage of ENDA in the House (11/8/2007): After ENDA  (appeared on
3. Donna and Jamison - Resignation From the HRC Business Council: Business Council Resignation
  I'm Done Here Go back to Donna's Home Page


Monday, November 26, 2007

1:00pm - I got an email from a friend who wrote to HRC and asked that they take her name off their mailing lists.  She forwarded the response she received.  I share it here without comment:


We understand your concern and anger at the situation; HRC acknowledges that the ENDA bill that passed in the House is an important first step to fight workplace discrimination and we are not in anyway celebratory of the fact that our transgender brothers and sisters were not included in this bill. We want you to know that we will not stop fighting for the inclusion of gender identity in ENDA.

Although we decided to support this version of ENDA in the final hour, throughout the entire process our goal was to have a fully inclusive bill go to the floor. The disagreement on strategies by advocates for equality should not make us question each other’s commitment to the common goal of getting protection for all members of our community. The truth is our real enemies will stop at nothing to prevent equality from moving forward for GLBT people. That the extreme right wing is doing all they can to lobby for the defeat of ENDA, but it has nothing to do with whether or not it includes gender identity. Their goal is to simply have our movement fail and for ENDA to die in Congress, which would severely hinder any chance of protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans.

While the bill Congress passed this week was not the bill we wanted, the Human Rights Campaign decided to stay at the table with Congress to ensure that millions of Americans receive the protections they deserve, and because passage of this bill is a first and absolutely necessary step toward preventing discrimination based on gender identity. Very soon, HRC will launch a new initiative to ramp up efforts on educating Congress on the importance of including gender identity in ENDA and protecting the entire gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. HRC continues to break down barriers in the corporate world through our Workplace Project. This year a record 195 major U.S. businesses earned the top rating of 100 percent on our Corporate Equality Index, and for the first time, a majority of rated firms — 58 percent — provide employment protections on the basis of gender identity.

The bottom line: The commitment of HRC’s Board of Directors for a fully inclusive bill has not changed. Because HRC stayed at the table, something we will continue to do, we were able to secure an unprecedented commitment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Without a doubt, the only path to achieving a bill protecting our whole community was by securing passage on this historic vote.

After twelve years of hostile leadership, we have come so far and changed so many hearts and minds. Only a year ago, it never seemed possible that we could pass any GLBT legislation. For the first time in history, both houses of Congress passed a hate crimes bill, and for the first time ever a workplace antidiscrimination law passed in the House. Even a year ago, we could not imagine this coming to fruition. Our fight will not be won overnight; it will be won one step at a time.

Whether or not you stand with HRC, we hope that you will continue to take action in the fight for equality for the entire GLBT community.

In addition, this email is to serve as a confirmation that your removal request has been received and updated in our records. You have been removed from all of HRC’s mailing & email lists.

Please understand that if we have already processed and sent other mailings to you prior to making this change, you may still receive one or two mailings. This does not mean that your removal has not taken place, but simply that your information was updated after we had already processed that piece of mail.




Wednesday, November 21, 2007

11:30pm - I'll call this entry "My HRC Retrospective".  In the weekend prior to the HRC Board Conference Call on October 1 I started stumping with board members around the country, calling them, expressing my concerns, sharing my thoughts.  Most were respectful and seemed to truly want to talk.  I appreciate their candor and even though things worked out as they did I'm comfortable that I did everything I could to steer away from what I saw was coming.  I articulated to someone that I felt like I was the watchman on the Titanic who saw the iceberg materialized in the dark night haze and started yelling to change course, but nobody was listening. I still feel that way.

Many of the board members are (or were) friends.  I don't know where that stands given recent events or how things will work out considering that I perceive needs to happen.  I wonder how many would have changed votes knowing then what they know now.  Maybe none.  Maybe some who voted to take a stronger stand would have had a different vote, as well.  What I will say is that it was clear that Joe knew what he wanted to happen and it happened. 

Shortly after the last election cycle, where HRC's biggest Republican targets got picked off one by one (where are you today, Rick Santorum?), there was almost a euphoria of anticipation.  I warned that part of the problem is that now that the Democrats were finally in control there would be high, probably unrealistic, expectation that HRC finally pass something on the legislative front.  Those expectations needed to be managed right away but weren't, and I believe that some of the pressure that started to build immediately after those elections led to bad decisions, poor judgment, horrible communication, and ultimately to pass some symbolic legislation but at a horrific cost.  Somehow, that doesn't pass for Leadership in my book.

In a very short span of time, HRC has become drunk on its perception of it's own power.  The problem with getting drunk is that there will eventually be a time to become sober again.  I think that time is right around the corner.  Hate Crimes is stalled and faces an uncertain future.  ENDA passed in the House but hasn't even been submitted in the Senate and looks to go nowhere fast.  Don't ask Don't Tell could just as well be a slogan for the state of ending that sorry piece of legislation as it is for the government policy on Gays in the Military.  Marriage?  With a presidential election around the corner?  Are you kidding me?

So, very soon, all the promise of a year ago may very likely hit the wall of reality and turn to dust.  And where does that leave HRC?  No legislation.  No credibility.  Embattled staff.  No other GLBT organization wants to work with them.  Transgender community considers them a pariah, abandoning ship faster than you can say "Betrayal".  Hopefully, there will be a financial cost to all of this as well.  That said, it gives me no joy to say that I hope they're enjoying the sweet taste of "Victory" on ENDA.  It could turn out to be very bitter very quickly - there are often consequences for burning bridges.  Just wait until people who were cheering yesterday start turning tomorrow.  Success is fleeting like that...

The part I find saddest is that it didn't have to happen this way.  But then again, maybe it did.  Maybe this is all part of some big plan somewhere and this is just how things were supposed to unfold.  I guess only time will tell.  Either way, I'm feeling as though I'm that watchman slowly floating away in a life raft.  The ship has hit the iceberg although most of the passengers don't know it yet. They're doomed; it's only a matter of time before the massive hull slips below the icy water.  "The Titanic is Unsinkable," they said.  If we don't learn from history we're doomed to repeat it.  All I can say is get ready.  Here comes the past all over again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

12:30pm - It has been nearly two weeks since I have updated my ENDABlog.  I've taken a vacation from it.  Not that I've taken a vacation from recent events which transcend any specific piece of legislation.  For those of us who take recent events personally there is no way to escape it.  However, it's important to keep it in perspective and to turn towards more productive expression.

I recently published some thoughts in a new Op/Ed piece titled "What Next?".  It articulates some of my recent thinking as we move to where we've been to where we're going.

So, too, will this ENDABlog mature, I think.  Rather than keeping it as a comprehensive collection of inputs I am feeling that it will become more of a resource for outlet.  Towards that end I share the following video that was forwarded by a friend.  It was created by Liam, and is titled "Open Letter" (see it here).


Friday, November 9, 2007

11:00pm - It is the ENDA the day.  Thankfully, precious tends to happen with ENDA over the weekend.  Good thing.  I'm tired of even spelling the word, much less talking about it.

I'll end by sharing a statement that's posted here on my site, but was printed by The Advocate today (After ENDA - read it here). 

I truly believe that most of the things we need to live a happy life we learn by the time we're 8 years old, but spend the rest of our lives forgetting.  Don't cheat.  Be nice to others.  Be sure to share.  Don't say dirty words.  Love thy neighbor.  No budging.  With that in mind, perhaps it's no surprise (or, maybe it is) that I look back to things we learn as kids as reminders of what we often forget as adults.  So, I end the week with the following ENDA thought:

I meant what I said and I said what I meant.
An Elephant's word is one hundred percent.

Then, later...

A person’s a person, no matter how small!
And you very small persons will not have to die
If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!”

Horton Hears a Who  - Dr. Seuss

Somehow, it all seems so simple sometimes.


3:00pm - I have a couple of updates.  First, I apologized for anything perceived to be a personal attack on Mr. Joe in my "other" blog when I compared him to a long-missing Labor Union boss who had questionable "friends".  It must have been temporary insanity on my part and I know better.  I am not above public apology (the question is, is Joe?) so there you have it.

I want to be as balanced here as I can so here's a recent posting from your favorite TransAdvocate and mine, Marti Abernathey, in a piece titled "What Next?":

Another worrisome aspect of this vote has been the reaction from some parts of the transgender community. Since passage of ENDA, I’ve heard various transgender people call for the protesting of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). I have to wonder, is that really the wisest move? What does that accomplish? How does that move transgender people closer to inclusion in the 2009 bill?

I don’t like the duplicitous nature of the HRC over the past two months. Dealing with them on any level feels like a Charlie Brown nightmare. But an honest assessment of the facts shows that HRC is the largest GLBT political machine there is. Do we create or elevate another organization to that level in a years time? I don’t think that could be done in ten years time, much less one. The HRC owns the keys to access our politicians. How do we fight for an inclusive ENDA in 2009 and fight the HRC at the same time?

Read the full posting here: What Next?  -, Nov. 9, 2007

For what it's worth, I share her thinking.  Still, I'm not going to take this quietly....

Speaking of not taking things quietly, here's the Michael Signorile show from Thursday with Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (It's 20 minutes long so make yourself comfortable).


powered by ODEO

Mara has been hitting the media rounds lately.  This alert popped into my in-box a few minutes ago:

Mara Keisling to be on C-SPAN
on Saturday, November 10, 7:45am EST
Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, will be on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal."  Mara will be discussing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  This is a call-in show, so don't miss your chance to ask Mara questions live on air.

The program will broadcast on Saturday morning, 7:45am Eastern, November 10th. 

If you miss the live broadcast, you can also watch the program on the web via streaming media from the C-SPAN Washington Journal webpage.



10:30am - I've received some pretty angry email over these past couple of days - not necessarily addressed to me but copying me.  I understand.  Me too.

I've also received a couple of more conciliatory types of emails, one of which called the Dropkick-the-T maneuver "brilliant".  You know I have responded to all of those stressing the fact that I disagree with those assessments in the strongest possible terms.  This is not and cannot be business-as-usual event as everything has changed.  Really, fundamentally, changed.  Whereas I've bought into the argument that we're all after the same goal in the past because I suppose I wanted to actually believe it I don't believe that any more.  This isn't about passing a fully-inclusive ENDA for them.  It's about passing ANY ENDA no matter what the cost. The two are not even remotely the same. 

As co-chair of Diversity for the HRC Board I made sure that the annual Diversity budget included money to support various transgender conferences - notably, IFGE and Southern Comfort.  I am also responsible for getting sponsorship money for IFGE so it can do all the things it wants to do above and beyond what registration dues cover.  I called IFGE this morning and told them I would strongly oppose any effort to allow HRC to provide financial support for any of the transgender conferences including theirs.  They agreed.  We cannot accept what can in any way be perceived as "blood money" after what has happened.  It's too soon and to allow that to happen would only keep people from the community who should be there away.  Nobody wants that.

Questions continue to surround the supporting "logic" that HRC deployed to support it's decision to actively support the Trans-less version of ENDA:

Poll results questioned as ENDA fallout continues, UK - Nov. 9, 2007
America's leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality organisation, Human Rights Campaign, has been challenged by gay journalists over an opinion poll ...

As a result, the Advocate provided additional detail about the poll:

More Details Obtained About ENDA Poll Commissioned by Human Rights ...
The Advocate, CA - 29 minutes ago
Since then, The Advocate has obtained the full results of the poll questions about ENDA, which passed the House of Representatives Wednesday in a 235-184 ...

One inconsistency immediately jumps out.  Here is the original story:

Poll: 70% of LGBT Community Supports Passing Non-inclusive ENDA

According to a new poll, 70% of LGBT Americans prefer passing an Employment Non-discrimination Act that does not include transgender people over not passing the bill at all. The poll, commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign and conducted on October 26, surveyed 500 members of the LGBT community across the country.

Poll: 70% of LGBT Community Supports Passing Non-inclusive ENDA  -, Nov. 6, 2007

Here is part of the additional explanation in the new story:

Of the 514 people the poll surveyed, 246 respondents identified as male, 262 identified as female, five identified as female-to-male transgender, and one person identified as male-to-female transgender. The poll was conducted between October 2-5. The margin of error was not available at the time of this posting.

More Details Obtained About ENDA Poll Commissioned by Human Rights Campaign  -, Nov. 9, 2007

Is this the same poll?  What is the reason for the discrepency?  Again - way too much ambiguity here to give it any validity.  More than that, it raises serious ethics questions.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

3:00pm - As the day has progressed I am find it increasingly interesting to see how GLBT Press is focusing on HRC's tactics as much or more than on ENDA itself.  This entire shady affair is full of deceit and when things were happening fast and furious there wasn't time to stop to ask questions (other than the interview with Joe Solmonese on Mike Signorile on SeriusQ radio the other night).  Now, they're asking questions.

On the Human Rights Campaign's "Back Story" blog Tuesday, a statement was posted that threatens to drive a wedge into the tenuous relationship between the nation's largest LGBT rights group and the transgender community. After more than a month of backtracking and conflicting statements, HRC finally revealed what many of us have known since the eruption of anger over the removal of gender identity from the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act: HRC has caved and will support the sexual orientation-only bill championed by out gay Representative Barney Frank.

Earlier Tuesday, HRC trumpeted a poll it commissioned that showed 70 percent of the 500 self-identified LGBT folks surveyed were okay with the non-trans ENDA. We immediately asked who these people were – HRC members or subscribers of the Advocate? (The magazine was first out of the box to post the story about the survey, leaving some to wonder if the two were joined at the hip on this one.) Minutes later, we received a call from spokesman Brad Luna, who assured us that the 500 folks were "randomly" selected "from across the country" and were "not HRC members and not Advocate readers." He declined to name the polling company that conducted the survey, which he said was done by telephone.

It's no surprise that HRC President Joe Solmonese wanted a poll – anything, really – to buttress his claim that fighting incrementally for equal rights is the way to go. Now, suddenly, the day before the House is scheduled to vote on the sexual orientation-only ENDA, poll results are released; this, after a concerted effort by some 300 LGBT organizations across the country to stand firmly behind an inclusive ENDA that would cover all members of the LGBT community.

[Later, it continues....]

We feel duped. When Solmonese was hired to lead HRC, one of the first questions we asked him was whether the group would continue its policy of supporting a trans inclusive ENDA. We were told it would. Now, that is not the case.

HRC has adopted the incremental approach, and attempts to justify its stance by drawing comparisons with the piecemeal struggle for equality during the civil rights movement, when there were "agonizing tradeoffs," to quote the letter endorsing ENDA from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which includes HRC.

Given the fact that President Bush isn't likely even to sign ENDA – assuming it passes the House and Senate – we believe that HRC has needlessly expended a lot of political capital and goodwill at the expense of the trans community, which once again has been sacrificed.

Read the entire article here: HRC's  'back story'  The Bay Area Reporter - Nov. 8, 2007

It's almost a miracle that Chris Crain has said more things I can agree with - not only what what he said but how he said it:

Just one day before Barney Frank and our GLB allies in Congress debated opponents of ENDA in Congress, Human Rights Campaign prez Joe Solmonese had a debate of his own, with Mike Signorile on Sirius Out Q. You can listen to the exchange on Pam's House Blend, but here are the highlights:
  • HRC's strategy was actually to prevent the compromise ENDA from ever coming up for a vote on the House floor. Once it passed out of Rules Committee, HRC reversed itself. It's unclear why HRC would publicly commit itself to a strategy that depended on ENDA never making it to the House floor, something that was inevitable after Nancy Pelosi gave a green light.
  • HRC will score the ENDA vote on its congressional report card, which is pretty remarkable considering the many public pronouncements by Solmonese that HRC opposed (and then was neutral) on the compromise bill. At the same time, HRC will indicate somehow those members (it turned out to be seven Dems) who voted against ENDA on trans-inclusion grounds.
  • Amusingly, Signorile complains the internal ENDA debate "got really ugly," including "nasty comments about transgender people" online. No doubt that happened and shouldn't have, but thus far I've only seen nasty comments by transgender people (and their allies), not about them.
  • Signorile took Solmonese to task for acting like a Beltway lobbyist and not a civil rights leader. All I can say is, "Welcome to the party, Mike." I've said many times that Joe is no doubt a talented tactician, although his ENDA flip-flops raise some doubts there as well. But he never should have been named to lead the nation's largest gay rights group. He would have been much better suited to be political director, working for a someone who gets "the vision thing" and can inspire unity and progress in the movement.
  • Solmonese now claims he "misspoke" at a Sept. 14 meeting with transgender activists in Atlanta for the Southern Comfort conference. "We do not support and in fact absolutely oppose any legislation that is not absolutely inclusive," Solmonese said then. Believe it or not, Solmonese now claims HRC's position is still to oppose ENDA if it is not trans-inclusive, but only if it passes Congress in that form and is up for the president's signature.
  • Solmonese's take-away from the whole ENDA debacle is that HRC should be entrusted with more, not less, leeway to decide what's best for us. "In retrospect," he said, "perhaps the policy of HRC should be that we're going to evaluate each circumstance as it presents itself and do what we think is in the best interest of the community." Yes, he really said that.

Read the entire article here: The Debate Before the Debate - Nov. 8, 2007

More importantly, though, are people coming out to share how what has happened has affected them:

What has been missing from the debate, mainly focused on transgender people with foes playing up fears of penises showing up in women's locker rooms, is the very real discrimination against all people -- straight, gay, bisexual and transgender -- for not conforming to "rules" about gender expression. It's about the straight bartender who refused to wear makeup at a Reno casino" and ended up losing, the court siding with the casino, ruling she was not unfairly dismissed from her job as much as it's about Susan Stanton losing her job when she announced she would be transitioning.

For me, it's personal -- I'm not a petite blond in a bikini. I get called sir on a daily basis. I had a job where I was asked to wear a skirt for client meetings. I interviewed at another and refused because at this small start up software company in the early 90s, women were not allowed to wear pants. I love getting dressed up but please don't ask me to wear a dress. It makes me miserable. If you ask me to wear make-up, I'm going to look like a clown.

It's personal because one of my kids struggles with gender identity. I watch his pain and know there is a very real chance he is transgender. Threaten my children's rights and I am no longer sane... throw him under the bus and I'll go out and pick that damn bus up and throw it off the road.

And it's personal because it is a statement about my community. What we are willing to do, and how we are willing to walk in the world.

It is a devastating loss. In 1987, Massachusetts passed a gay and lesbian civil rights bill. Twenty years later, we still have no gender identity protections. The only state in the country with legally recognized gay marriage and no protections for gender expression.

As a community, we need to reframe where we are. It's not about making chicken salad out of chicken shit, which implies making due with what we have. It's about creating a calculated, thoughtful strategy for moving forward, building on what we have. It's about making stone soup. I believe that's what Congresswoman Baldwin was trying to do. Regardless, I am going to support her because I am unwilling to throw anyone under the bus.

Read the entire article here: ENDA Rift: Throw Tammy Baldwin Under the Bus?'  The Huffington Post - Nov. 8, 2007

Or this:

For days, sometimes weeks at a time, I bask in a cozy headspace where I don’t think about my gender and, more important, no one points it out to me. When the reverie is broken, it is almost invariably by a stranger. It can happen wordlessly, as in a women’s restroom, where I sometimes catch a fellow patron’s gaze tracking from my face to my breasts and back again, her attitude one of idle curiosity or confusion, occasionally disgust or hostility.

It can happen indirectly, as when I was once within earshot of a (gay) man who, indicating me, hissed, “What is that supposed to be?” He happened to be speaking to a friend of mine, who heroically replied, “She’s whatever you need her to be.”

It can happen more directly, as when a clerk quite innocently calls me sir, then, noting his gaffe, showers me in pardons and sorrys, not realizing that his apologies make me far more uncomfortable than any mistaken appellation. Confusion I can take, even hostility, but I resent this notion that how others perceive my gender should -- or does -- matter to me...

Read the entire article here: Boy, Interrupted Nov. 8, 2007

And, there is analysis.. This one from TortDeform: The Justice Defense Blog:

...excluding transgender and transsexual people from the law’s protection is, to me, akin to saying that very light-skinned blacks and Latinos don’t get protection against race-based discrimination. Or, it’s like placing an annual cap on the number of women who can be protected against sex-based discrimination. In other words, it’s divisive and unnecessarily narrow for its purported purpose. And it’s insulting that in this day and age we should have to “compromise” to pass an anti-discrimination law passed.

To this concern, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offers a little history lesson: “History teaches us that progress on civil rights is never easy… It is often marked by small and difficult steps.”

What else does history teach us? In the fight for statutory racial equality Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and others fought incrementally through the courts, first to get the “equal” prong of “separate but equal” enforced, then to show that equality can’t be enforced as long as the “separate” prong remains intact, then to turn “separate isn’t equal” into a legal mandate for integration. Next came the legislative fight to expand desegregation beyond the educational context. These very noble and heroic efforts took decades and the right political timing. But you fast forward to 2007, almost 2008, and we are in a mess of confusion over what to do with vast inequities in racially segregated schools because we have yet to modernize our legal approach to anti-discrimination efforts. Constrained in our debate by concerns about making steps that are too far-reaching, we end up doing not nearly enough instead. We are afraid of protecting too many people from discrimination… that’s where we are now.

But we don’t have to be stuck in the past in our approach to anti-discrimination—if the baby steps approach doesn’t work any more, we can fix it. We can evolve with the changing times. The incremental approach may no longer be necessary, effective, or helpful in advancing our country’s norms so that we understand discrimination to be the poison, the societal stumbling block that it is.

Read the entire article here: Protecting (Some) Americans Against Employment Discrimination - Nov. 8, 2007

Mara Keisling was on Mike Signorile's OutQ program yesterday and I'm told she out and out called Joe Solmonese a liar (big surprise there given her recent rants and the crap she's had to deal with).  I'm surprised she was that restrained.  Anyway, I'm trying to get a copy of it to post here.  Stay tuned on that.


12:00pm - Today is another day.  The sun is shining.  Birds are singing.  Life goes on.

I have formulated my feelings on what has happened in a new Op/Ed piece (The Mourning After).  I felt that it was important to articulate how I'm feeling this morning and that's what came out, for better or for worse.

I'm looking at some of what's being said and it runs the gamut:

Can’t let yesterday’s news about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act winning in the House go without mention. It was an emotional evening and a tremendous success for the gay and lesbian community.

BUT, not including our transgender brothers and sisters is a real shame. We’ve really gotten to a point where protections for gays and lesbians is appreciated and necessary (including in South Carolina), but transgender people are the ones who need protection the most. And considering how long it took to get these rights for gays and lesbians, I have my doubts that we’ll ever see the law expanded again.

The fight continues.

 the House on gender identity.

ENDA Win In House, Minus Trans Protection - Charleston (SC) City Paper, Nov. 8 2007

On overview on Qweerty looks like this:

Many organizations took yesterday’s passage to mean one thing: it’s back to the drawing board. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which fought tirelessly for trans inclusion, released a statement expressing sadness over the discriminatory decision, but vowed to continue the fight. Says president Matt Foreman:

We are deeply disappointed that House leadership decided to ignore the position of a vast majority of LGBT organizations, ignore the legal assessment that this bill may not even provide adequate protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, and ignore the fact that this vote might make it more difficult to persuade members of Congress to support a fully inclusive bill in the future.

We are relieved this episode is behind us, and starting right now we are going to pick up where we were six weeks ago — namely, working to pass into law in 2009 the ENDA our entire community wants and deserves.

Human Rights Campaign - the massively powerful and wealthy non-profit whose lobbying helped pass this non-inclusive piece of legislation - sent out a similar statement, although president Joe Solmonese leaves the future notably blank:

Today, we witnessed the making of civil rights history in the U.S. House of Representatives by the passing of ENDA. This vote by Congress is an important step at ensuring that millions of gay and lesbian Americans will never again have to go to work in fear of losing their jobs because of who they are.

Our fight for equality will not be won overnight. It will be won one step at a time, and we will not give up until we reach the finish line. This is a critical piece of legislation and a major step toward the finish line for all Americans.

Though Solmonese himself doesn’t mention the lack of trans rights, HRC’s press folk did express “disappointment” that HR 3685 neglects countless American citizens.

Though we can’t know where this vote will take our queer nation, it’s clear that the wounds will take weeks - if not years - to heal. The past six week have been decidedly decisive, with people taking sides on who deserves rights and which path best suits our current cultural climate. It’s sparked infighting and no doubt many, many tears. It’s pitted smaller organizations, activists and journalists against HRC, an organization we undoubtedly need. But, we also need organizations like the National Center For Transgender Equality, whose leader, Mara Keisling, voiced her aggravation against HRC yesterday:

…They totally abandoned us, but even worse was all the lies. I can tell you that HRC has aggressively been pushing for passage of the non-inclusive ENDA since the end of September. We got an e-mail yesterday from one congressional office describing their letter as HRC’s new new position. They went from, ‘We don’t support the bill,’ to ‘We don’t support the bill but we support you if you support the bill,’ to ‘Forget trans people, we need a win.’

We cannot let this win destroy our communities. We cannot let it destroy our solidarity. Must we support this bill? Yes. Must we continue to push for trans inclusion? Yes. The next months and years won’t come easily, readers, but if we can keep our wits, wiles and wisdom, we’ll succeed. When, where and how remains to be seen, but we must not let these wounds fester. Now that we have a legislative leg to stand on, we must use it to walk into a democratic and civil future.

ENDA: The Day After -

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

National civil rights organizations are celebrating the passage by the House of legislation that would add "sexual orientation" to a list of federally protected classes, but some San Francisco groups refuse to take part in the party.

The vote Wednesday on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, postponed several times, was ultimately revised to remove protection for transgender workers, which upset gay rights groups here and across the country. Democratic leaders said the removal was necessary to get the act passed. But more than 300 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leaders opposed the exclusion, saying it is unfair and sends the wrong message.

"People are livid," said John Newsome, co-founder of And Castro for All, a bias awareness group. "If the first step out of the gate leaves people behind, it is an ill-conceived first step."

The Human Rights Campaign, the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights supported the revised bill, saying an incremental approach is sometimes necessary, and that the move marks a step forward.

"We are happy for our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters and understand that we are making legislative progress, but we feel that there is a lot of work still to be done," said Cecilia Chung, deputy director of San Francisco's Transgender Law Center. "We are disappointed that this version is not all-inclusive."

Many in Bay Area call anti-bias measure an act of betrayal - San Francisco Chronicle - Nov. 8, 2007

HRC sent a list of Media Coverage on the ENDA Vote, and although I haven't visited most of the links just be aware of the source

Media Coverage Overview:


The New York Times by DAVID M. HERSZENHORN (HRC quoted): House Approves Broad Protections for Gay Workers

The Herald Tribune by DAVID M. HERSZENHORN (HRC quoted): House approves bill outlawing workplace discrimination against gays

The Los Angeles Times by Johanna Neuman (HRC quoted): House votes for protections for gay workers,1,3686443.story?coll=la-news-a_section

The Dallas Morning News by NYT and Wire (HRC quoted): House approves ban on job bias against gays

San Francisco Chronicle, by Carolyn Lochhead (HRC quoted): House approves bill banning bias against gays in workplace

San Francisco Chronicle by Leslie Fulbright (HRC quoted): Many in Bay Area call anti-bias measure an act of betrayal

Phoenix Business Journal (HRC mention): House Dems approve workplace protections for gays

The Associated Press by Andrew Miga: House Passes Job Bias Ban Against Gays

Reuters by Thomas Ferraro: Lawmakers vote to protect gay, lesbian workers

 GLBT PRESS: (HRC quoted): ENDA Passes House Without Trans Protections

The Advocate: House Approves Ban on Job Bias Against Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals

The Washington Blade (HRC quoted): House passes ENDA in historic vote

PinkNews UK: US workplace protection bill passes

BBSNews (HRC quoted): US House Fleetingly Passes Historic Protection for Gays and Lesbians

Out and About Tennessee (HRC quoted): U.S. House passes Employment Non-Discrimination Act,  Includes sexual orientation but does not protect gender identity


Pelosi Remarks: ENDA an Historic Step Toward the Ideal of Equality

Human Rights Campaign: U.S. House Takes Historic Step by Passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act


One email I received last night included the definitions of 2 words, both of which apply:

Marked by deliberate deceptiveness especially by pretending one set of feelings and acting under the influence of another;

Being or acting in accordance with the principles of government  in which political expediency is placed above morality and the use of craft and deceit to maintain the authority and carry out the policies of a ruler.

I'm thinking about issuing a statement of my own.  If I do it won't be nearly as angry as Mara's was.  But, as always, you can be sure it will come from the heart.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

8:00pm - The fallout is beginning.  I share a few stories here, without comment, that should be able to stand on their own merit:

Anything But Straight: HRC's Broken Promises
Written by Wayne Besen
Thursday, 08 November 2007

This was originally going to be a column defending the Human Rights Campaign. I had grown tired of people taking cheap potshots at them over inclusion (or not) of transgender Americans in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The gratuitous, invective-laced attacks appeared vicious, personal, counterproductive and designed to damage the organization – and hence the overall interests of GLBT people.

Further aggravating me were churlish remarks on Internet chat rooms where supposedly professional activists would say things like, "HRC has no right to speak for me and does not represent the gay community." Well, the truth is, they do speak for you, by virtue of the fact they are the largest membership organization and have a $30 million dollar budget. This affords them a unique platform and by claiming their voice is irrelevant, it only hurts the status of the entire GLBT cause on Capitol Hill.

Whether you like it or not, HRC has built the best – or at least most financially viable - mousetrap. America is a free country, and if HRC detractors think they can do better – there is nothing stopping them from marching up to Capitol Hill and making it happen.

Now that I have taken a swipe at the irrational HRC haters, the organization has earned some legitimate criticism on their handling of the ENDA debate. They have made an absolute mess of the situation and damaged their reputation and credibility as an honest powerbroker.

For starters, Executive Director Joe Solmonese told a packed room of transgender people at the Southern Comfort Conference in September that HRC would oppose any version of ENDA that doesn't include protection for transgender people. This was followed by an Oct. 2, 2007 press release – posted on the blog Pam's House Blend:

"Since 2004, HRC has had in place a policy that supports only a fully inclusive version of ENDA and the Board of Directors voted to reaffirm that position," wrote Solmonese. "Therefore, we are not able to support, nor will we encourage Members of Congress to vote against, the newly introduced sexual orientation only bill."

Yet – today we come to find that HRC circulated a letter on Capitol Hill – along with other civil rights groups – asking members of Congress to support a non-trans inclusive bill. The letter said, "we urge you to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and to oppose any floor amendments or motions that would undermine its protections."

Reasonable people can disagree on whether HRC should take this incremental approach or wait for a more inclusive bill. I sided with a more inclusive bill for three reasons:

1) We owe transgender Americans much for their activism and it is the right thing to do

2) The transgender community is too small and does not have the money or votes to gain protections on their own.

3) Bush is going to veto ENDA anyway, so we should use this as an opportunity to educate America on transgender Americans.

The other side, led by Rep. Barney Frank, believes that we should seize the moment and pass a bill that has been stymied for 30 years. This, of course, is a difficult debate, and Frank's position is not without merit.

What is unacceptable, is for HRC to tell a packed house of transgender people that they will stand up for them – and then pull the rug out when the going gets tough. The promise of inclusion should never have been made unless HRC intended to keep its word.

In full spin mode, HRC is claiming that they are simply adjusting their position to new facts on the ground – meaning they polled Congress and they won't pass a trans-inclusive bill. This explanation is alarming, in that one would think HRC would have taken a "whip" count on their signature piece of legislation before they ended up getting whipped. Had they no idea of where Congress stood before making such flowery promises at the Southern Comfort conference? And, if they were aware of the vote count, why did they offer promises they did not intend on delivering?

It was sad to listen to Solmonese dissemble on Mike Signorile's Sirius satellite radio show about how he was for a trans-inclusive bill before he was against it - and unable to answer the simple question: "Why should we believe any of your future grandiose statements about equality?"

HRC needs to learn to take a position and stick to it – or they can expect chronic detractors to stick it to HRC. A little honesty will go a long way in defusing battles that damage the entire community and divide our collective energies. There are those – like myself – who appreciate HRC as our voice in Washington. However, the organization is at its best when this voice is not coming from both sides of its mouth.

See the article here

Apparently, breaking promises is accepted practice in politics.  The deceit was not limited to the width and breadth of the transgender community.  In fact, there's a good chance that duplicity was used to even get ENDA in a position to pass in the first place:

Only one major national LGBT organization refused to join ENDA and support its call for members of Congress to vote against any bill that did not include gender identity. After promising never to support any version of ENDA without gender identity, the Human Rights Campaign — the largest and most influential LGBT organization in the country — shifted position to ‘neutral’ in October, saying that HRC would not tell members of Congress to vote for or against the stripped-down bill. But after H.R. 3685 passed the House Education & Labor Committee, HRC then shifted again, lobbying House members to vote for the non-inclusive version of ENDA.

HRC did nominally support the amendment put forward by the other openly gay member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), which would have restored gender identity to the stripped-down version of the bill (HR 3685). But the House leadership offered Baldwin only ten minutes on the floor of the House before forcing her to withdraw the amendment. In doing so, the Speaker and the leadership broke their promise to the members of the House Education & Labor Committee that they would have the opportunity to vote on the Baldwin amendment on the floor of the House if they voted in favor of the non-inclusive version of the bill in committee.

My sources tell me that there were at least four Democrats who agreed to vote in favor of ENDA in committee only after being assured that they would have the opportunity to vote in favor of Tammy Baldwin’s gender identity amendment on the floor. Had those four Democrats voted against H.R. 3685 in committee, the bill would have never come to the floor. But having gotten the votes they needed to get the non-inclusive version of the bill through committee, Frank and the House leadership then betrayed their promise — to members of their own party — to offer a vote on the floor of the House on gender identity.

ENDA Passes the House - Trannies Thrown Overboard - Visible Vote 08, Nov. 7 2007

There's a video recap of some of the main speakers during the 5 hour marathon debate at Joe.My.God (see it here).  For my money, though, the speaker most worth watching is Tammy Baldwin.

I've gotten updates from NCTE, HRC, NGLTF, PFLAG, Out and Equal, Equality Arizona, and a half dozen other organizations.  All applaud the historic passage of ENDA, and lament (with various degrees of bitterness) the fact that it is incomplete.  I'm too tired to post them all here....

The question at hand - what comes next?

Now that the House vote is (finally) over, the fight moves to the Senate, where hopes are high for a similar outcome. That chamber nearly passed ENDA in 1996; it lost by just one vote. Among the 45 current senators who were in office in 1996, 26 voted for the bill and 19 voted against it. That bill, like the one that passed the House today, had no language regarding gender identity.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) is expected to introduce ENDA in the Senate at any time. His office has not revealed whether it will contain a transgender provision. Let’s hope it does not. This is not the time for grandstanding; nor is it the time for well-intentioned members of the United ENDA coalition to actively oppose ENDA in the Senate. The debate over trans inclusion was had and it’s finished. Supporters of that approach didn’t have the votes so we must all go back to local districts and do the hard work of educating lawmakers on gender identity issues.

The House Makes History - Washington Blade, Nov. 7 2007

I don't have the energy to do any more tonight.  I'm drained.  I'll be taking a few days off and assessing whether there is a continued need to follow this now. 


4:24pm - ENDA just passed: 235-184.  It is done.  I feel no joy.

3:08pm - Tammy Baldwin just spoke and I have tears in my eyes.  The Baldwin Amendment has been withdrawn without a vote.

1:12pm - They're still going at it. It's like watching a sporting event when you don't know the rules of the game.  Who's winning?  Beats me.  I'll admit that I'm happy to see so many people talking so passionately about transgender inclusion, though.  I only wish the energy that appears to have gone into undermining the fully-inclusive bill had gone into supporting it.  Instead of being a participant in this sport today I'm just a spectator.

I was part of a group advocating for the City of Austin, TX to adopt transgender protections and Lisa Schepps and I went to the hearing on the day it was to be voted on.  Mayor Will Wynn (that's his name - no kidding) was there and it was the day the Texas quarters were first released.  He was handing brand new quarters from a roll to everyone who came to the City Council meeting.  Lisa and I were there, keeping quiet but ready to defend it if called upon, and to basically do whatever was needed.  They talked a bit in some jargon that was totally foreign to me and did some stuff.  After about a half an hour someone stopped by and congratulated us.  Apparently the issue had been approved and we hadn't even realized it.  This is like that.

They've moved on to argue other things.  The key point being argued now is the word "perceived" as in "perceived sexual orientation" and the ambiguous nature of the term.  I hate to say it, but I can see his point.  Corporations around the country are enacting protections and very few I can think of use that word as part of their policies.  One Representative just said that the word "perceived" doesn't appear in any other Civil Rights legislation in this country.

I've been talking over the last couple of days with Jamison Green on what we're going to do about our continued involvement in the Business Council.  We've decided that whatever we do we need to do together and it's not a simple decision.  I'll have more on that in coming weeks for those who care, but I'll probably share it in my "other" blog as it's not specific to ENDA.

Anyway, Barney Frank is talking, or should I say yelling, at the moment.

Oh, and lastly, one friend told me I shouldn't have compared current HRC leadership to Jimmy Hoffa.  I do apologize and take that back - I get a little passionate sometimes. 

11:46am - The debate has started.  They're spending more time arguing about the fact that the Baldwin Amendment won't be submitted for a vote than they are about ENDA as a bill.  I haven't heard the word "transgender" spoken this often since my last support group meeting.  And this is the floor of the US Legislature?  Someone pinch me.  I'm just waiting for someone to use Barney Frank's "People of Transgender" label....

BTW - One Democrat from NY said he supports the bill if the Baldwin Amendment is part of it.  He will oppose it otherwise.  If I had a vote that's what I would do, as well.

They have just adjourned for 15 minutes to take a procedural vote on something (a Motion to Adjourn).  Seems like halftime to me - the teams have gone to the locker room and will come back out to play the second half shortly.

10:00am - The President of France is speaking to a joint meeting of the House and Senate in CSPAN.  ENDA is scheduled to be up for a vote once he's done.

One thing I think needs to be mentioned is the implication of HRC coming out as supporting the Non-Inclusive version of ENDA.  HRC keeps a scorecard of congressional voting on their issues, and since HRC is now supporting HR 3685 it means that to vote against it will mean a negative score on their scorecard.  Joe Solmonese was pressured to explain this in the interview with Mike Signorile yesterday (I posted the link to the audio yesterday - well worth a listen) and all he could say was that, "It will be scored."

I suppose I can share that one of the main discussion points at the end of our Board Call on Oct. 1 centered around this very issue.  The question that had been posed was, if we come out as opposing a non-inclusive version of ENDA and a particular Senator or Representative votes FOR it, thinking they're doing the right thing by voting FOR a "gay" bill, then how could we penalize them for that?  How can we penalize our friends for supporting a gay bill even though it might not be the gay bill we want?

Apparently, that's not a two-way street.  Now we have a scenario where our "friends" may vote against ENDA for all the right reasons but will receive a blemish on their HRC scorecard.  Joe, specifically, could justify taking a more moderate course specifically because of the scoring conundrum, but now that they've done what they've done that's not an issue?  We have several terms for that in the English language: hypocrisy, double-standard,  and shameful are a few that come to mind.   Somehow, "not nice" doesn't seem to do it justice....

I continue to feel that the HRC Board has been managed all the way to where they are now.  They have been led here, or rather they have allowed themselves to be led here, and as a result needs to be accountable for the fallout.  Joe has demonstrated that he is a master of hard-ball politics - that he is capable of doing just about anything to anyone in order to achieve political goals.  The thing he's allowed HRC to lose as a result is its soul.  What HRC has needed is someone who understands what a real Civil Rights leader needs to be - empathetic, caring, moral, strong, visionary.  At a time when HRC needed a Martin Luther King, Jr. it got a Jimmy Hoffa. 

NCTE sent an update on ENDA earlier this morning.  I share part of it here, without comment:

The Final Bill

The bill that is up for a vote is H.R. 3685-it is the one that excludes protections for people based on gender identity. We do not know how many votes it will receive. Apparently yesterday, it was in trouble so HRC, along with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) wrote a letter to Congress with seven other non-LGBT organizations, strongly supporting the divisive bill. They also warned Congresspeople that their votes would be criteria for their scorecards which means that even members of Congress who have had perfect civil rights scores for years will be penalized if they make a principled vote NO in protest of gender identity being removed from the bill. Because HRC, for now, has the only national scorecard and national Political Action Committee, their scorecard is a huge consideration for members of Congress and they are understandably concerned that HRC is threatening them with a significant blemish for voting with transgender people and our allies. That official abandonment of transgender people by these organizations yesterday may have therefore changed the vote count but we do not know. Some members of Congress will still make a principled NO vote and LGBT people should rush to support them.

If the bill passes the House of Representatives today, that is probably the end of the road for it until 2009 since there are insufficient votes in the Senate and the President is certain to veto it.

The tragedy of all this of course is that everyone in Washington agrees that there were sufficient votes in the House for the unified ENDA in September. The concern that Congressman Frank and others had was whether gender identity could survive a hypothetical Republican Motion to Recommit (see below).

The Baldwin Amendment

The most important thing to know about the Baldwin Amendment is that Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has worked incredibly hard to get gender identity back into ENDA. Her amendment was an attempt to do just that, but for a variety of reasons including undercutting by HRC and others, the votes are just not there to pass it. Thus, rather than have a failed vote, the amendment is likely to be withdrawn after ten minutes of debate led by Ms. Baldwin.


DiversityInc magazine has a blurb about the situation:

With Victory in Sight, LGBT-Rights Groups Flip-Flop on ENDA Bill

Weeks after LGBT-rights groups lobbied Congress to avoid passing a non-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that excluded transgender workers, some organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), are changing their position and urging Congress to pass the bill with or without protections for gender identity. On Tuesday, LGBT-rights groups encouraged Congress to proceed with its plan to vote on the bill as is, reports According to a recent HRC poll, 70 percent of LGBT people prefer passing a non-inclusive bill versus not passing a bill at all. Congress will vote on the bill on Thursday.


8:00pm - The moral error inherent in the flawed strategy so cruelly implemented by Barney Frank and HRC, especially over the last couple of days, is trickling into mainstream America.  An Opinion piece in this morning's San Francisco Chronicle hits the nail on the head:

On Protecting Gay Americans from Workplace Discrimination Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) vote tests our values

An incrementalist law is a blunder

...the recent history of the LGBT movement suggests that incremental approaches sometimes prove effective, still American history is rife with counter-examples where the increments won were far too modest and actually slowed progress and where the sacrifices made were unconscionable by most any measure.

With ENDA, Frank is again leading the charge to pass a fatally compromised bill. While most incrementalist approaches to civil rights have sought to protect an entire group or "class" of people, and gradually expand protections, Frank's ENDA compromise divides the LGBT community by protecting some members while betraying others. The scaled-back version of the bill would protect many lesbians and gays, true, but it leaves all transgender people unprotected from employment discrimination. According to several studies, unemployment among transgender people is believed to exceed 70 percent.

As a result, no national LGBT organization supports the Frank compromise, and hundreds of organizations around the country have risen up to oppose Frank's efforts. Even worse, President Bush already has pledged to veto ENDA under any circumstances. So if the Congress is to vote on principle, one can't help but ask: What principle?

Read the entire article here - Nov. 7, 2007

I received an email yesterday from Angela Clements, former HRC lead lobbyist for ENDA (how's that for irony?) that she forwarded to HRC.

Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 12:42 PM
To: ''
Cc: ''
Subject: Deep disappointment in HRC's support of a non-inclusive ENDA

Dear HRC,

As the former lead lobbyist on ENDA, I was there when Barney Frank agreed to support a trans-inclusive ENDA.  We worked for months-- no, years-- to build credibility and support for a new and improved ENDA.  The Board of Directors didn’t only endorse this view, it mandated it through their August 2004 decision.

I am truly shocked that HRC has chosen to completely reverse itself on ENDA.  I am personally offended that I worked for an organization that doesn’t even stand by its own Board decisions.  What sort of governing process is that?  What sort of confidence does it instill in your thousands of donors? Or, do you just expect them to ignore this hypocrisy?

I am in law school now.  I look forward to playing a leading role in LGBT activism for years to come.  I look forward to working for an organization that doesn’t abandon its mission statement at the first sign of political trouble.  I truly cannot believe that you would abandon years of work, Board policies, etc. for a bill that has no chance of becoming law in this Congress.  I have lost faith in the political acumen, not to mention integrity, of HRC.


Angela Clements


I suspect that there will be much  more to share today.  Buckle up.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

8:00pm - Usually, if former Washington Blade Editor and current blogmeister Chris Crain says something that includes the phrases transgender, ENDA, Human Rights Campaign, or Equality I'm exactly on the other side of whatever he's saying.  That's not to say I don't respect the man - I respect anyone with the cojonas to have an opinion and to put it out there - it's just that we're typically on opposite sides of most things. 

Mr. Crain actually said something I agree with.  He was talking about this "poll" that HRC did last week to gauge community support for a non-inclusive version of ENDA.  He says:

It speaks volumes that HRC sat on their poll, knowing what the community really wants, until the House Rules Committee set ENDA up for a vote and then, at the 11th hour and 59th minute, literally one day before, HRC jumps on the bandwagon.

That's not leading; that's called following.

Welcome back to the Movement, HRC - Nov. 6, 2007

If you have 12 minutes of free time, or if you can make 12 minutes, I'd take some time to sit down and listen to Mike Signorile's interview today with HRC President Joe Solmonese.  Mike asks some hard, serious questions - in fact the same questions I'd ask - and it's interesting to listen to Joe's reactions.  I think they're telling. (Listen to it here, as posted on Pam's House Blend). Mike even plays the audio of Joe's remarks at SCC.  My reaction?  Ouch!

Believe this or not - Joe and I are scheduled to be a the same event next Saturday in Dallas.  Should be interesting....

1:30pm - The fallout from HRC's ENDA shenanigans are only now beginning to trickle in.

Here's a letter from Cathy Padilla from the Philadelphia area to the Philadelphia Steering Committee, and copies to HRC leadership:

Dear Friends:

It is with great sadness and disillusionment that I'm forced to send the following note. All of us entered into a discussion recently with HRC, in what we thought was good faith. They assured us that they did not support a non-inclusive ENDA & that none of their actions should be construed as in any way leading to passage of such a bill.

HRC has secretly signed letter supporting the non-inclusive ENDA in violation of the recent HRC Board Vote & assurances made to the community.

It's time to call for Joe Solmonese and David Smith to resign. They outright lied to us in the Philadelphia community just 3 weeks ago on this very subject. It's time to stop supporting organizations that lie to our faces. All of you were on the conference call, all of you received Joe's email assurances that HRC was firm in their policy.

This was not the only instance over the past few weeks of HRC acting at variance with the position they assured us they were following. It should be the last time we allow them to lie to us without consequence.

This is Joe in his email to leaders in the Philadelphia LGBT community when we questioned HRC's stance on ENDA:

"It seems that the most controversial issue here is our board's position on H.R. 3685, the stripped-down bill that Rep. Frank introduced last week. We will neither support the bill nor ask members to vote against it. Let me be clear: this does not amount to approving of a non-inclusive bill; it does not set up a situation where a non-inclusive bill will pass without gender identity, and it most certainly does not give Congress a "pass." I will explain in detail below.

First, we do not "support" the non-inclusive bill. HRC is not lobbying in favor of H.R. 3685. We have not mobilized our members in support of it, nor expended resources to secure a vote on it. HRC cannot throw our resources behind it, because it leaves transgender people behind. Plain and simple."

HRC's disdain for its constituents is more than evident.


Kathy Padilla

There will be more of these.  I agree that the time has come for all fair-minded people to withdraw their energy, their money, their trust, and their support from this organization.  I appreciate that some have taken a more refrained approach to both the organization and its motives but to continue any involvement at this point would be to deny the obvious.

BTW: There's an interesting interview with former HRC President (and 2 time Massachusetts State Senator) Cheryl Jacques on ENDA at (read it here).

11:30am - It's almost noon in AZ (2pm on the East Coast) and I've been watching CSPAN today to see for myself what will happen when ENDA comes up to bat.  So far I've seen people talk about servicemen and women, a resolution on the Boston Red Sox, granting citizenship to people in the armed forces, and any number of other discussion.  ENDA is still to come.

The big news of the day, so far, is that HRC has finally dropped its ruse of not actively supporting (but no opposing) the non-inclusive version of ENDA.

HRC Shifts, Actively Pushing Barney Frank's ENDA

Breaking its month-long posture of nuanced neutrality, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) today endorsed the revised version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that provides protections for gay and lesbian Americans but does not include language barring bias based on gender identity and expression.

At the same time, as it has done since out gay Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank pulled transgender protections out of the bill - citing vote counts showing they would doom ENDA's chances - HRC also pressed the House to add the gender identification language back in by supporting, on the floor, an amendment from out lesbian Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin.

In a mid-day interview with Gay City News, Joe Solmonese, HRC's executive director, said the group shifted its position in the wake of action Monday evening by the House Rules Committee to move the measure forward for a floor vote, now scheduled for Wednesday.

Previously, the group had withheld support for the revised bill, pushing for the more inclusive original version, but critically also saying it would not oppose any version the leadership brought forward. The group has effectively moved from a passive "won't block" posture to one of affirmative support.

HRC Shifts, Actively Pushing Barney Frank's ENDA - GayCity News, Nov. 6, 2007

HRC rarely does things in a knee-jerk way so it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that this has been in the works for quite a while.  In fact, supported this decision by launching an effort to indicate that the GLBT community supports it.

Poll: 70% of LGBT Community Supports Passing Non-inclusive ENDA

According to a new poll, 70% of LGBT Americans prefer passing an Employment Non-discrimination Act that does not include transgender people over not passing the bill at all. The poll, commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign and conducted on October 26, surveyed 500 members of the LGBT community across the country.

Poll: 70% of LGBT Community Supports Passing Non-inclusive ENDA  -, Nov. 6, 2007

Ironically, part of the supporting rationale for the board decision to support ONLY an inclusive ENDA in 2004 was the following:

"HRC conducted polls and found that 61 percent of registered voters and 85 percent of gay and lesbian voters support workplace protections based on gender identity and expression. " - Washington Blade, Aug. 13, 2004

Are you trying to tell me that the numbers shifted so substantially over these past several years?  I think not. Joe should have done his homework before doing this because their own research and their own words from years gone by will come back to haunt them.  Any shred of credibility left is gone.

Additionally, HRC National Field Directory called a hastily scheduled meeting this morning of the group of trans activists as a follow-up to the meeting a couple of Fridays ago.  The meeting notice was sent out only 2 hours before the meeting was to occur and the agenda called for HRC staff to provide an update.  As with the last meeting I chose not to attend, I didn't attend this one either.

This strategy seems to be a direct contradiction of the board's directive to NOT support a non-inclusive bill as announced Oct. 2.  The thing that few people realize is that there have been 2 board calls since the fateful board meeting a month ago, and the board essentially gave Joe the authority to make the decision to support any version of ENDA that he felt was necessary.  And, he has.  As of this early hour he hasn't updated the board on what he's done yet....I expect that will happen shortly.

The vote on ENDA that was expected today has been moved to tomorrow.  Are you telling me I've watched a day of CSPAN for thing??!  Ouch.

And lastly, as if that wasn't enough, ten minutes have been allotted to discuss the Baldwin Amendment, but it will be pulled from the floor so no vote on it will take place.  Additionally, a significant shift occurred when the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights announced that it is now supporting the non-inclusive bill:

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and six other signatories have put their support behind HR 3685 in a letter to House representatives, despite the expected absence of federal level protections for transgender employees. The signatories urge support for what it believes can be accomplished for gay and lesbian workers this week, which is to vote on ENDA without the Baldwin Amendment, and look towards workplace protection for the entire LGBT community as it becomes politically possible to do so.

The signatories in addition to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Human Rights Campaign are: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Education Association, National Employment Lawyers Association, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; and the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees.

ENDA to hit House floor tomorrow without Baldwin Amendment Vote - PageOnQ, Nov. 6, 2007

Oh, one more thing.  I've changed my position, as well.  I now hope that this non-inclusive version of ENDA fails and will do whatever I can to assist in that effort.  If your company is part of the Coalition that has signed on to support ENDA you need to approach your company about pulling out of the coalition NOW.  This bait and switch tactic cannot be allowed to move unchallenged.

The situation continues to evolve.  Hold on tight.

Monday, November 5, 2007

11pm - Ending weeks of speculation, word tonight is that the non-inclusive version of ENDA moved out of Committee a couple of weeks ago will be introduced for a vote in the House of Representatives tomorrow (read details here)

"The House Rules Committee has taken the next step to move HR 3685, the Employment Non Discrimination Act, to the House for a full vote. The vote will take place today, Tuesday Nov. 6.

As passed by the committee, each side will have 30 minutes to debate ENDA and three amendments will be offered. "

The Baldwin Amendment will be offered, and will be allowed a mere 10 minutes of discussion before the vote.

More than likely, however, the Baldwin Amendment will be submitted, discussed and withdrawn.  As discussed in an earlier post it never really had a chance without the full support of the bill sponsor and the lobbying necessary to get and keep the votes.

Baldwin has apparently made limited headway in wooing colleagues to support the inclusion of transgender protections, and ironically her measure, if put to a vote, would create precisely the framework that Frank warned against when he advised a narrower formulation of the bill. His fear was that Republicans would put up a mirror-image amendment to Baldwin's, stripping out transgender protections.

Such an amendment, by forcing members of Congress to record a vote specifically on that issue, threatened to point up the weakness of support for transgender rights - and if done by using a particular parliamentary maneuver could have killed the entire bill for this session.

Given the risk that Baldwin's amendment might fall well short of a majority, the assumption among activists is that she will withdraw it if a decent show of votes cannot be achieved. A well-placed Democratic congressional aide told Gay City News last week that the amendment would be debated on the floor, but then withdrawn by Baldwin prior to a vote.

ENDA Heading to the Floor this week - GayCity News, Nov. 5, 2007

I posted an Op/Ed piece about ENDA tonight (read it here).  While researching it I found an interesting twist that's particularly timely given current events.  There's an article from the Washington Blade explaining the HRC Board Decision in 2004 to support only a fully-inclusive version of ENDA (HRC vows no ENDA if no trans protection ).

To the HRC, the amended policy represented its move toward “pragmatism.”

“Passing ENDA without gender identity and expression is like passing a copyright law that covers books and television shows but doesn’t cover digital music or videos,” Jacques wrote in an opinion piece for the Blade (Please see Page 29). “That’s why we’re supporting a modernized and comprehensive bill that gives full protection to all of our community.”

Now the aligned groups must figure out what the shift will mean to ENDA’s future in Congress. HRC acknowledged this week some lingering concern over how the addition of gender identity may delay ENDA’s passage.

[HRC Legislative Director, Chris Labonte] indicated that if past supporters in Congress decide to go it alone without the recommended changes, HRC has considered approaching others, such as Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), to create a revised bill inclusive of protections based on gender identity and expression. Baldwin signaled her support for a transgender-friendly ENDA earlier this week — and her openness to working on the bill.

“Some believe that a new ENDA containing transgender-inclusive language will be more difficult to pass, however, that must not deter us from seeking full civil rights for all,” Baldwin said.

HRC vows no ENDA if no trans protection - Washington Blade, Aug. 13, 2004

And here we are.  Tammy Baldwin is living up to her word.  HRC is not.

Speaking of HRC, Autumn Sandeen provides some revealing insight on Pam's House Blend today in an entry titled, "The HRC's Bad ENDA Behavior - And a Cover-up?"  I have come to believe that politics is synonymous with "cover-up" so I'm sure there's more than a grain of truth to it.  I hope they're ready for the fall-out from whatever happens in the vote tomorrow.  I can't wait to see the press release.  It's already written, you know.

One thing I find almost amusing is that Mara Keisling from NCTE has given up any pretext of being Politically Correct.  She's fed up and just telling it like she sees it so her updates are peppered with inflammatory adjectives and verbs.  It's kind of refreshing as it makes it takes any guesswork out of figuring out what she's really trying to say.  Her most recent update is titled, "It Appears Likely That ENDA Will Be Voted On In Its Flawed Form Tomorrow"

All signs on the Hill today are that Congressional Leadership plans to send the divisive ENDA that the LGBT community opposes to the floor for a vote tomorrow. We do not have all the particulars just yet, such as whether the Baldwin Amendment will be allowed. This means that we probably have less than 24 hours to express our opinions to members of Congress.

Time for bed.  My brain hurts from all of this...


Saturday, November 3, 2007

11pm - There's no more definite information today on ENDA than there was last week at this time.  That's not preventing rumors to swirl, however, or a continued verbal war on both - or should I say ALL - sides.

"House Democratic leaders this week put off a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for the second week in a row, raising questions about whether the bill is in jeopardy over a dispute about a proposed transgender amendment.

Democratic leaders were scrambling to reconcile competing concerns by moderate to conservative Democratic House members, who do not want to vote on an amendment to add transgender protections to the bill, and liberal Democrats, who have threatened to vote against ENDA if it does not include trans protections, according to Capitol Hill sources."

ENDA Vote Postponed Again - Washington Blade Nov 2, 2007

NCTE send an update yesterday, and with the lack of actual information Mara ventured a guess about what will happen:

"The rumors are still flying about whether the non-inclusive, divisive ENDA will run next week or be shelved until we can have a real conversation about how to get back to where we were a month or so ago and pass unified ENDA H.R. 2015. My money is now on House leadership trying to run the bill this coming week. The article below from Congress NOW Daily Newsletter seems to have Reps. Frank and Baldwin as well as the Speaker's office all but confirming a vote for this coming week. So that's where my money is."

I'm not a betting person, but I'm betting otherwise.  I don't think it will come up for a vote this week but we'll see.

Gwen Smith had an Op/Ed piece in The Washington Blade on Friday titled Vanity, Thy Name is ENDA (read it here).  But, by and large, the volume of the furor has gone way down.  By design? Perhaps.  As I said - I'm not a betting person.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

11pm - I've been sharing snippets of updates that I've been getting over these past few weeks.  HRC.  NCTE.  The Task Force.  PFLAG.  They've all been sending action alerts, news, spin, and any number of various other propaganda regarding the twisted path of ENDA to whatever fate awaits it.

I haven't received anything in several days, and although there really isn't anything new to share I got a couple today that I think are particularly telling.

The first is an update from Mara at the National Center for Transgender Equality.  (read it in its entirety here).  The key to reading these things is to find the "meat" so here is what I have extracted from the 3 main paragraphs as being the most important quotes:

At this point in the train wreck though, the truth is that no real victory is possible for anyone-not this round. If they pass the divided and divisive bill, the vast majority of us in LGBT-land are disappointed. We are not and will not be divided because very few LGBT organizations are not on the United ENDA side in this. Some fringe-we are almost the whole cloth of the community. More importantly, our collective federal, state, and local work is set back years.

We know that the unified and inclusive bill (H.R. 2015) is off the table for this year, so passing that is very much not an option at this point. The Baldwin Amendment is apparently off the table. But even if the Amendment were still open for discussion, some LGBT supporters in Congress and our community have done such a thorough job of undermining the work that we all have been doing that it has become barely a long shot to pass it.

If the bill is pulled for now so that we can work together on a unified bill, that too is hardly a victory. Relationships have been strained tremendously, resources and political capital have been expended needlessly and we all go back to square one minus several. However, this is still the best option. Our goal has to be moving the ball forward to pass a bill that will protect all of us and until the divisive bill has been pulled from consideration, we cannot begin again working together to pass such a unified bill.

On came out from PFLAG, as well.

As a member of United ENDA, PFLAG is taking a strong leadership role in the effort to keep ENDA trans inclusive. While we disagree with some House members on a plan to move forward with a non-inclusive version of the bill, we've been working closely with House allies to further a strategy that we know better reflects the PFLAG membership.

Your voices have helped us both in the short-term and the long term as we educate the GLBT and ally community - as well as our federal legislators - on the critical importance of fully trans-inclusive legislation. You can see the results of these efforts in several articles that have appeared in the past few weeks.

The future of ENDA and the Baldwin Amendment remains uncertain. Some reports suggest that the bill will not move forward, while others suggest that it will move ahead but the Baldwin Amendment will not. The truth is that no definitive decision has been made on the fate of ENDA this year.

In other words, this isn't quite over. Please stay tuned for updates on the fate of ENDA as well as information on what you can do to continue to move equality forward.

Regardless of what happens, we should use this experience as a reminder that we must all be talking about the importance of inclusive legislation whenever we have an opportunity - not just when a crisis arises.

I don't know about anyone else, but these both sound like "It's all over but the shouting" letters.  After all of the energy, all of the movement, the frenetic pace of just a couple of weeks ago we've gotten to a point where we're just waiting. 

I said this at the beginning and nothing that has happened since has changed my mind.  I think Barney Frank decided what he wanted to do and called HRC to tell them the role he expected them to play.  I think he told them to sit on their hands and be patient - that things would get loud for a while but that they would eventually die down and if they could do that he expected that they'd be on the "winning" side.  So, they did.  I think things got a little more contentious than Barney had expected but the calming period is here and, true to prediction, that's what has happened.  The vote, at this point, is anti-climactic in many ways. 

Since ENDA was sent to the sideline other news has come front and center.  The furor over the ex-gay Grammy winner at an Obama gospel event in South Carolina.  The confirmation of Leslie Southwick to the US Court of Appeals 5th Circuit.  They've all effectively pushed ENDA to the side to the point that it almost seems like old news. 

Was this part of the plan all along?  I don't know that anyone knows that answer.  All I know is that if I had been in the driver seat and I set about doing this 5 weeks ago this is exactly what I would have wanted to see happen.  I'd be shocked to see ENDA pulled.  Who knows?  Maybe there are a few surprises left in this.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

4pm - The following snippet is from my main Blog.  I include it here because it's pertinent to ENDA:

Democrat Rep. Anthony Weiner from New York spoke on the House Floor about a fully inclusive ENDA last week and it's important to hear his words.  He said:

If we’re going to make a symbolic stand the symbolic stand shouldn’t be, “Let’s pass a one-house bill with only part of the protections we need.” Let’s let the symbolic message be that we’re sticking together. That when we say GLB T we mean it.

And, we should do something else. We should also make it very clear to those watching this discussion that we’re not going to negotiate against ourselves. We’re not going to say, “Well, if we toss this element or that element off to the side maybe we’ll be able to get what we need.” There are some things that are immutable – some civil rights that are immutable – and this is one of them. We’re going to stick together, pass an inclusive ENDA or we’re going to come back again and do it right.

Amen.  We do have friends that truly 'get it'.  We need to clone this man and put 212 of the clones in the House of Representatives.  He absolutely rocks.  In my simplistic view of things he is the antithesis to Barney Frank, and we can argue all day long about whether or not there are the votes to pass a fully-inclusive version but I'll tell you now, if Barney had this kind of a commitment and used his influence to make it happen it would happen.  He doesn't, he won't, and so here we are.

When I meet this man I am going to hug him.

The House calendar for the week apparently does not include a vote on ENDA.  Still, there are other important pressing issues on deck....

ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, has not been included in the calendar for the US House this week, PageOneQ has found. The House will consider, among other business, designating October 2007 as Country Music Month and naming a Miami courthouse, a United States Border Patrol station in California, and Post Offices in New Jersey and Michigan.

House calendar for coming week does not include ENDA vote

The article goes on to say that there is a chance ENDA could still be added later.  The reason for this sleight of hand?  Who knows.  Could we please get this over and done with? 


Friday, October 26, 2007

2pm - Since news that the ENDA vote had been delayed came to light on Tuesday hard news on ENDA has been difficult to find.  People have certainly been talking, and people certainly have opinions - op/ed pieces today are filled with ENDA, but factual change or movement this week seemed pretty scarce.  Until today.

News reports are beginning to surface that the Baldwin Amendment is dead.  It's all over but the shouting:

Reps. Tim Walz (Minn.) and Ron Klein (Fla.), leaders of the class of freshman Democrats, carried a message to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday that their fellow first-term lawmakers did not want to vote on an amendment extending civil rights to transgender employees.

House Education and Labor panel Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), whose committee passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, said he told the freshman lawmakers at their Wednesday breakfast with Pelosi that the amendment did not have the votes to pass and would not be brought to the House floor.

Freshmen Democrats kill transgender amendment

Nobody has come out with an official version of this, but I expect that will happen shortly once it has been tidied and wrapped a little bit. 


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

9am - The White House finally made an official statement on ENDA yesterday.  In something called a "Statement of Administrative Policy" Sr. White house advisors indicated that they recommend that the President veto ENDA should it reach his desk (see the full version of the statement here).

In its first statement on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would protect gays and lesbians in the workforce the White House said Tuesday the bill is likely unconstitutional and that if it passes in Congress the president's senior aides would recommend vetoing it.

"[The bill] is inconsistent with the right to the free exercise of religion as codified by Congress in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)," the White House said in a statement

White House Warns of ENDA Veto

I don't know if there's anyone surprised by that news.  They found other reasons to object to this bill, too:

The administration also said that ENDA was result in unnecessary litigation.

"For instance, the bill establishes liability for acting on 'perceived' sexual orientation, or 'association' with individuals of a particular sexual orientation. If passed, H.R. 3685 is virtually certain to encourage burdensome litigation beyond the cases that the bill is intended to reach."

In addition the White House said that provisions of ENDA "give Federal statutory significance to same-sex marriage rights under State law. These provisions conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman. The Administration strongly opposes any attempt to weaken this law, which is vital to defending the sanctity of marriage."

White House Warns of ENDA Veto

We're talking about workplace discrimination here, right?  You'd think that we were discussing legislation that had the potential to cause the collapse of Western civilization as we know it. Workplace discrimination is a threat to religious freedom?  The only thing this tells you is that the arguments that failed to stop Hate Crimes (touted as "thought control" legislation by some) are now working on ENDA.  The fact that they'd question the constitutionality of it is playing a very dangerous card - and is one I'd love to see trumped.  I can't wait until the first case testing this makes its way to the Supreme Court (that'd never happen) for a test.

Unnecessary litigation?  How many corporations protect people based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression?  How many of those are facing unnecessary litigation because of it?  The answers would be: lots, and none. 

Lastly, to imply that providing workplace protections is somehow a threat to same-sex marriage laws is truly to make the biggest stretch yet.  I suppose the thinking is, "If they're equal in the workplace then that must mean we need to give them equality in other places, too.  Like marriage."  How crazy is this stuff?  It's hysteria.

By the way, do you know where the word "hysteria" comes from?  The root of the word is "hyster", as in hysterectomy, or hysterical.  It is derived from word "hyster" which in Latin is the word for womb.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary says it comes "from the Greek notion that hysteria was peculiar to women and caused by disturbances of the uterus ."  Not that this has any particular application to what I've said - I just find it interesting.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

5pm - There's still lots of talking going on about ENDA.  One piece that I think everyone needs to read was posted by PFLAG Executive Director Jody Huckaby today.  It's titled "Symbolism or Substance in ENDA Debate" (read it here).  Some of Jody's thoughts:

Unfortunately, the mainstream media has characterized this primarily intra-community conflict as the protestations of a "fringe minority of transgender activists" or the "extreme left" of the LGBT population. Nothing could be further from the truth. One look at the list of organizations and the constituencies we represent makes that crystal clear. This is not a conflict between "pragmatic incrementalists" and "all-or-nothing idealists." This controversy goes to the very core of what brings the LGBT community together, and it has forced a much-needed debate to the surface. It is time for some truth-telling and difficult conversations about what it means to be a community advocating for workplace protections.

Oddly, though, I wonder how much more there is to say.  It feels almost like the build-up to the Super Bowl, or preparations for Christmas where everything is leading up to an event that turns out to be anticlimactic. 

Some are already looking at what comes after.  One that comes to mind is Monica Roberts' entry on TransGriot titled "The Calm Before the Storm".  She muses:

While I can't predict which way the votes will go on the Baldwin Amendment and HR 3685 itself, I can say with certainty that the aftermath will be ugly not only for the GLB community but the transgender one as well.

All that being said - we'll need to delay Christmas this year because late afternoon news out of Washington is that the ENDA vote has been delayed until some time next week (details here) - or beyond.  Dem leadership is saying that the reason for the delay is to give more time for working the Baldwin Amendment vote.  Don't buy that for a single second as there's not a hint of truth to it.  That's not what's happening here.  What's going on is that the bill is in trouble and they need the time to shore up the vote on 3685 itself. The combination of the right-wing attacks plus the pressures from within the community to oppose a non-inclusive ENDA has put the bill in serious jeopardy so they need extra time to work their people.  For those who might naively think that this is a good thing - it's not.

I'll take that to the next level.  I'll be so bold as to make some predictions.

To be perfectly candid, I feel that that the outcome has already been cast.  The Baldwin Amendment won't come close to passing - the only thing to do is a body count afterwards.  Barney Frank is saying publicly that he supports it but in private that's not what's happening.  If it didn't have the votes when it was actually part of the bill then why does anyone think it would have the votes now that it's being offered as an a-la-carte add on?  Good intentions aside, it never really had a chance.

What's to gain?  Two things.  First, we get people on record about it.  Rather than back-room rumors of who supports it and who doesn't it will have an opportunity to force people to choose.  That's the bright spot.  That's the building block for the future. 

There are 435 members of the House of Representatives.  That means 218 would need to approve it for it to pass.  In early Barney Frank rhetoric he indicated that he was anywhere from 40-60 votes short (others refute those numbers as fiction) to pass a gender-identity inclusive ENDA.  He uses that argument as the reason he split the bill in the first place (another point others refute as fiction).  How many votes will the Baldwin Amendment get?  Anything less than 185 is embarrassing and will lead to huge fallout.  More realistically, 185-195 are probably what we can expect which is a very honorable showing, by the way, giving the topic, the furor, and the effort to keep us out.  Anything more than 195 votes is reason to truly celebrate.

The other thing to gain, and there are those who disagree with me strongly on this (but that doesn't change how I feel) is that the pressure we're putting to oppose a non-inclusive bill could actually help to kill it.  My own nightmare is for a non-inclusive bill to pass despite all the efforts of so many people, so many organizations, so many phone calls and letters and offices visits to support ONLY an inclusive bill.  Voting for the Baldwin Amendment and against a non-inclusive ENDA are not one and the same and the latter is much more likely than the former.  I'm still of the opinion that the time isn't right for this, and symbolic victories won at the expense of fracturing a community are hollow.  We're a community or we're not so if we allow this bill to fly simply to satisfy vanity and agenda (that's what I feel is happening) then we will have lost more than we've gained.

The fallacy in so much of this is the fact that corporate America is picking up the slack.  Corporations continue to pass their own mini-ENDA's to protect their employees.  They don't need votes - they do it and that's that.  They've already learned that it's good for business so they're doing it all on their own.  The fact of the matter is that by the time this comes back around for another try in Washington it will almost be anti-climactic.  Most of corporate America will have already done it.  Cities and states around the country will have done it.  There are those who believe that politics leads the way when it comes to social change.  Not so.  Politics follows.  In this case, the political outcome will happen when it's safe - and it will cover us all.  It's obviously not safe enough yet.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

4pm - I have enjoyed having a few days of not having to think or do much about ENDA.  My in-box has been recovering from the workout it has received in recent weeks, and I don't know that I've seen anything ENDA-ish since Friday.  I'm sitting in the Charlotte NC airport as I type this and will share a couple of recent news articles for those who are interested.

We've made the big-time: An article that appeared on titled LGB Rights Bill: Hold The "T"? was reprinted on today (read it here).  I think it was particularly well done, especially the observations it makes on the potential for change in the political landscape:

One of the consequences of the ENDA conflict is a realization that LGBT rights groups have organized themselves differently over the past decade. In the 1980s and early '90s, a handful of national organizations based primarily in New York and Washington lobbied legislators and served as mouthpieces for gay rights issues, most often AIDS-related funding. But with the Republican Congressional takeover in 1994, plus the cultural shift toward more openly gay people living outside big cities, local LGBT political organizations flourished, especially after the spate of marriage amendment campaigns began. The move has started to pay dividends; with help from national organizations, Equality Arizona helped beat back a marriage amendment initiative in its state in 2006.

PlanetOut is doing a poll about transgender inclusion that they've titled: "Did They Get It Wrong?" - along with two very close-up photos of Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi.  It's similar to the one in the Washington Blade a couple of weeks ago.  Vote here


Friday, October 19, 2007

11:45pm - As if I had too much time on my hands, I transcribed Jason Bellini's interview with Matt Foreman earlier this evening.  Enjoy -

Jason Bellini’s Here and Now – Oct. 19, 2007 on CBS/Logo
(See the video:
Jason Bellini and Matt Foreman

JB: Congressman Barney Frank told me during an interview this week that he’s frustrated with groups like yours, and 300 others that are in that coalition for their “inability to strategize correctly”. What’s you’re response?

MF: Well, I think – with all due respect to Representative Frank who’s a hero to so many of us – we think he’s wrong on principle and on strategy. The folks in our coalition, 300 groups now across the country, are the very people that are passing pro LGBT laws in states all across the country, often against tremendous odds. We know about politics, we know what it takes to pass legislation, and we think this strategy of cutting out a portion of our community is wrong on those two fronts.

JB: He just doesn’t think he has the votes, and that’s his argument, that he would never be able to pass ENDA if transgender protection was included.

MF: When you’re advancing a bill and you think you’re in trouble, what you do is you sit down with your allies – your coalition partners – and you say, “ Look, we think we’re in trouble, this is the members that are wavering, how are we going to shore up that support, how are we going to bring in influential people – donors, party leaders, the speaker – to put us over the top? Without going through that process we were simply informed, after working on this for fourteen years, this is the way we’re going to do it, you don’t have the votes and that’s that.

JB: Do you mean to say that you will actually ask members of Congress not to vote for ENDA if it doesn’t include transgender protection when the vote comes next Wednesday?

MF: Well, let me say this. This is the tragedy of the situation, that for the first time ever and for the 34 years that we’ve been fighting to have a civil rights bill on the floor, this process has put members in the position of being asked of thinking they need to vote against the first piece of gay rights legislation ever. That’s the tragedy of the situation. We oppose this legislation. We hope it never comes up for a vote without transgender inclusion. But, this is why this is so horrific. We’re putting people – our allies – in this situation. We should not be here. The answer is either yank the bill or pass an inclusive bill.

JB: And, if you don’t get that choice and ENDA passes without transgender protection you don’t celebrate?

MF: Absolutely not. For one thing, we don’t have the votes in the Senate to pass any version of ENDA. George Bush is not going to sign any version of ENDA. So, what we’ve done is we’ve put our community through this wrenching, divisive debate over the last three weeks for absolutely nothing but a symbolic vote.

JB: If you insist that you can’t protect anybody until you protect everybody you’re going to protect nobody. That’s what Barney Frank thinks. What say you?

MF: That is setting up a completely false dichotomy here. As I said, we don’t have the votes to pass any version of ENDA in the Senate. We don’t have the President ready to sign it. We’re not talking about denying anyone any protections in the near future. What we’re talking about is let’s get this right. There’s not point in rushing this after 34 years of fighting for this bill. Suddenly, we’re going to rush it? We’re going to throw a part of our community off the bus? Absolutely not. That’s a very false scenario that’s being set up and it’s hurtful to those of us who really want to do the right thing.

JB: How do you feel about the Baldwin Amendment? You’re going to have to have the full House voting on transgender protection. Is that not what you want?

MF: This is a last ditch, hail Mary pass by Representative Baldwin to salvage the best out of this miserable situation. It is extremely, extremely difficult to add something back into a bill once it goes on the floor, and that’s even heightened by these repeated statements from leadership and others in the Democratic party that we don’t have the votes. So, let’s pretend that you’re a wavering member and you don’t know which way you should vote, and what you’re hearing is, “We don’t have the votes,” you don’t have muscle of leadership behind this – which way are you going to go?

JB: Isn’t it really odd that your organization – these 300 other organizations – are in a fight with, of all people, Congressman Barney Frank?

MF: Well, it’s incredibly painful to be in this position. But, friends can disagree, and we can disagree strongly. That doesn’t mean we’re not still allies. It means it’s unfortunate, I think, it’s been completely unnecessary but you know what? Once this fight is said and done we’re going to pick up and keep on fighting and Barney Frank is going to be right there with us.

JB: One last thing that Congressman Frank said was that organizations like yours and the others in the coalition aren’t doing enough to lobby on this and to fight the fight to get transgender protection included in ENDA, that you should have been doing this earlier in the year when he first introduced the legislation and that you were not.

MF: Well, we’ve been working month after month after month and frankly we were never told that we were in trouble and we did not learn of trouble in any of our work with members until we were summarily informed that we were in trouble and the bill was going to be yanked and transpeople were going to be cut out. So, what I will say is that over the last three weeks, because of what’s happened, members of Congress have heard form our grassroots community – our people – more on this issue than any other issue in the history of our movement.

6pm - So much to share, so little time.  Where to start tonight....

There has been so much uncertainty, so much disappointment, so much sadness and negativity over ENDA that I feel a need to star on a positive note.  Michelle Brown is one of those people you meet in your travels that you never forget.  She was the HRC Board of Governors Co-Chair for Diversity, and her passion and drive for true diversity makes her truly a champion in every sense of the word.  She brought me to Detroit to speak at the HRC Dinner there a couple of year ago, and we used the opportunity to truly engage the local trans community there - a truly incredible group.  Michelle resigned her post prior to the HRC Board Meeting a couple of weeks ago, and our last hugs were tearful and sincere.  A true commitment to "community" fosters very deep personal relationships that truly last a lifetime.

Anyway, she's got a Viewpoint piece in today's PrideSource (the local Detroit GLBT magazine) titled "Basking in the Sunshine of Change".

I attended the October board meeting with a heavy heart, knowing that for Donna and others this would be our last board meeting. I felt a sense of failure and disappointment that all the hard work we had done building awareness and commitment for diversity and full inclusion had been for naught.

There was also a sense of betrayal that HRC was not on the frontline of the fight for gender identity inclusion in ENDA, in effect, leaving my transgender friends and family behind. The transgender community is not just the "T" in LGBT for me. It is part of my community. Neither Donna nor I could imagine looking ourselves in the mirror each morning as a part of an organization that felt empowered to make promises to the LGBT community it seemingly felt free to break for the sake of political expediency.

Read the entire article here....

Amen, sister.

The battle is far from over.  If anything, it is intensifying as options and time both run short.  I got a couple of interesting email alerts today.  One was from Equality Arizona and Wingspan, the state GLBT advocacy organizations in Arizona.  I don't think I've ever gotten an email from the two of them, combined:


Dear Donna,


As early as next Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination ACT (ENDA) that does NOT ban discrimination based on gender identity (H.R. 3685). Not a single lgbt organization supports this bill, and its passage through the House Education and Labor Committee today was a huge disappointment for the lgbt community.

However, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin is planning to offer an amendment next week to fix this flawed legislation by adding gender identity back into the bill. This is Congress’ last chance to try to fix this bad version of ENDA before it is voted on by the House of Representatives, so please contact your Representative TODAY to urge them to support the Baldwin Amendment -- or vote to oppose this version of ENDA (H.R. 3685).

One article in the San Francisco Chronicle, titled "Rift deepens among gays as rights bill moves to House floor" articulates the increasingly bitter relationship between many in the community, House leadership, and HRC:

A rancorous breach within the gay community over dropping transgender people from a job discrimination bill widened Thursday when a committee approved the bill and moved it to the House floor.

The largest gay-rights lobbying group in Washington, the Human Rights Campaign, continues to work closely with Frank and will not oppose the legislation on the floor, even as it continues to push for gender identity inclusion.

HRC has come under attack from other gay rights organizations for its position, and Vice President David Smith fiercely defended the group after the committee vote.

"We are going to retriple our efforts to get an inclusive bill, and get it to a president who will sign it," Smith said. "We will not stop until that gets done, and when it does get done, HRC will be the organization that made it happen."

Read the entire article here....

Even if an inclusive bill gets signed, and HRC may have to do much of the political maneuvering to help make that happen, it will be difficult if not impossible for them to take the credit.  And, if a non-inclusive ENDA gets passed, rather than bask in praise and congratulations they will find themselves facing the fallout all alone.  Either way, outcomes are bad for them.

As if that all weren't interesting enough, Barney Frank pulled another interesting strategy change today.  Just yesterday he said that there wasn't enough support to pass a trans-inclusive version of ENDA which is the entire reason we're dealing with this mess in the first place.  Today, he indicated that he'll support the Baldwin Amendment to add the trans back in that he personally stripped out (read about it here).  Make sense?  Not to me, either.  He sent a press release explaining it (read it here) but I guess I'm just to simple to understand complicated things like not supporting us yesterday but doing it today.  It's like tripping an old lady on purpose and watching her fall down the stairs, and then going down to see if she's ok and try to help her up.  Damage done. 

Look at how others are spinning this changing strategy dance: ENDA: The ‘Transgender Bathrooms for Businesses’ Bill...Not pretty.

Lastly, I find it interesting that CBS/Logo is interviewing LGBT leadership about ENDA.  Who are they interviewing?  Joe Solmonese?  Try again.  Task Force Director and very visible leader of the United ENDA Coalition Matt Foreman:

Matt Foreman will appear on Logo tonight to discuss Employment Non-Discrimination
Act (ENDA), transgender inclusion and the new Baldwin amendment

“Our movement is used to fighting to win our rights incrementally, often one at a time. We are not, however, used to — nor will we allow — having our people protected one at a time. No civil rights movement has ever left a part of its community behind, and we’re not about to be the first.”
— Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc.

Logo will air and stream a CBS News on Logo interview tonight with Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. Foreman will discuss the grassroots activism shown in the formation and work of United ENDA, a coalition of more than 325 LGBT organizations representing more than 2 million people. United ENDA opposes any employment nondiscrimination bill that does not include transgender people.

United ENDA has been at the center of a recent controversy about transgender inclusion in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which the House of Representatives is expected to consider early next week. A bill that does not include transgender protections has passed out of committee and is expected to come to a floor vote in the coming week. U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is expected to introduce an amendment to include transgender people in the bill and there is a current groundswell of support for this effort.

The interview between CBS News on Logo's Jason Bellini (“Here and Now”) and Matt Foreman will stream online tonight, Oct. 19, beginning at approximately 6:30 p.m. (EST) at



Thursday, October 18, 2007

11pm - There is an interview with Barney Frank, broadcast on Logo tonight, available online at the website.  See the interview here.

HRC floated a press release this afternoon providing an update on ENDA:

Human Rights Campaign Statement on Education and Workforce Committee’s Approval of ENDA
“Now our community must focus our full attention to the upcoming floor vote on ENDA and building support for Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s amendment” says HRC President Joe Solmonese

WASHINGTON— Today the U.S. House of Representatives’ Education and Workforce Committee voted 21-27 to report H.R. 3685, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act providing workplace protections on the basis of sexual orientation, out of committee and onto the floor of the House for a full vote expected next week. Four Republican amendments were offered in committee and were defeated. To view the language and a description of each of the four amendments go to:

“Now our community must focus our full attention to the upcoming floor vote on ENDA and building support for Rep. Tammy Baldwin’s amendment that would make this bill fully inclusive of the entire GLBT community,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “HRC continues our fight for a bill that protects our entire community. Now is the time to act. Call your representatives today and urge them to vote in favor of Rep. Baldwin’s amendment.”

Yesterday, HRC issued a nationwide call to action to encourage its members and supporters to contact members of Congress to tell them to support Rep. Baldwin’s amendment. To read the action alert, please visit

To read Rep. Baldwin’s statement announcing her intention to offer an amendment to ENDA that would add protections based on gender identity, please go to


1:30pm - It is done.

Trans-Less ENDA Moves To House Vote 

(Washington) The revised Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in the workplace, but with references to gender identity removed, is headed to a vote on the House floor following approval Thursday in committee.

The House Education and Labor Committee voted 27 - 21 to mark up the legislation, sending it to a full vote in the House.

A number of Democrats on the committee attempted to reinsert gender identity without success. Several of them refused to vote in favor of marking up the bill as it stands - among them presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

GOP attempts to weaken the bill also failed.

Read the entire article on here....

I'm already getting updates from the various organizations involved.

From Mara at NCTE:

Sadly, I write to report that the Committee just passed by a vote of 27 to 21 the substitute Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that was introduced specifically to exclude transgender and other gender variant people.


We are greatly disappointed that the committee chose to move forward with a bill that is not endorsed by a single LGBT organization. It is historically unprecedented that Congress would pass a civil rights law that the civil rights community--including those it is meant to protect--do not want.


Tremendous effort by over three hundred organizations--including NCTE--and tens of thousands of individuals came close to fixing ENDA after it was precipitously gutted to exclude gender identity and transgender people. Unfortunately, we have fallen short at this stage.



I expect others will be coming soon, and will share them as well.

What does this mean?  Some are holding out hope for the "Baldwin Amendment".  The article provides the following analysis of next steps:

Baldwin's proposal appears to be acceptable, however, to those groups who formed an umbrella organization called United ENDA. Observers say the amendment is unlikely to pass.

Republicans and some Democrats say they will attempt to kill all of ENDA using a maneuver to send it back to committee where it would most likely languish and die in the current session.


8:00am - In two hours the sexual-orientation only, watered-down version of ENDA (HR 3685) introduced by Barney Frank when he split the inclusive ENDA in two three weeks ago today will go into committee markup.  If it gets past the markup it will go to the floor of the House of Representatives for a full vote.  If it does get to the floor Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has promised to introduce an amendment to the bill adding the gender identity component back into it.  That's where things stand.

UnitedENDA and fair-minded Americans across this country who are outraged by these political shenanigans that affect very real people have been flooding their representatives with calls, emails, letters, and in-person visits letting them know loud and clear that any version of ENDA that does not protect ALL of us is unacceptable.  Still, that is what is being debated this morning.

In essence, the original bill (HR2015) is dead.  This is all there is right now.  And while I appreciate the creative approach and the commitment of Tammy Baldwin I can't help but continue to be more than disappointed that, again, if we're going to be added to this bill it's an afterthought.  We'll do so by coming through the back door, quietly, cautiously, so as not to cause too much disruption.  That continues to disturb me.

HR3685 with gender identity added to it still does not provide the same level of protection as HR2015 did.  Despite what Barney Frank says there are huge holes and exceptions.  I suppose those with a short-view simply want to see something - anything - have enough votes to pass.  Symbolic victories these days are not as sweet as you think they are, and I daresay that even if things work to perfection that the celebration over this will be muted and subdued for many of us.  I know it will for me.

Part of me is clinging to the initial vision of "community" and is hoping that this bill gets killed in committee.  I still believe that if we need to sneak in by using a back door somewhere that the time isn't now - it's soon, but it's not now.  If the same courage and leadership that has crafted at least a salvageable strategy had been used by other "leaders" in the beginning we wouldn't be here right now.  But they didn't, and we are. 

And finally, gays and lesbians are grappling with the core question of whether GLBT stands for a detachable group of allies, or an integrated struggle for an end to discrimination based on gender stereotyping.

from 'Gay-only ENDA Heads to Committee' (Oct. 18)

As I look in my crystal ball I see this bill coming out of markup and going to the floor, despite feverish efforts to stop it  This entire escapade has removed any trust I once had that good things happen because they're good things, and I still see a non-inclusive version going for a vote next week. I wish I could say otherwise, and I'm hoping that I'm proven wrong (it won't be the first time), but as I said 3 weeks ago the political machinery looks to be primed to send the non-inclusive bill forward.  That hasn't changed.

The events of the past several weeks have been transforming.  The sense of community that has been forged by a common fight is something many of us in a million years never thought we'd see.  But it's here, and it must live on past this.  It must endure, as it represents more than simply an alliance of organizations: big and small, local and national, political and not political, GLBT and ally - it represents the soul of a community that has needed a voice in Washington, and that finally has the power to make that voice heard.

The always articulate and amazing Shannon Minter had an article on that is well worth reading:

Banding Together
The Advocate, CA - 9 hours ago
In an unprecedented show of unity, within 48 hours more than 100 LGBT organizations from across the country sprang into action to form United ENDA, ...

This morning is bittersweet for me.  I will not be happy if and when HR3685 moves out of committee, nor will I be satisfied if it is killed.  Over the past 3 weeks I've lost 10 pounds and my hair stylist mentioned the fact that I've lost quite a bit of hair since the last time I was in his chair just over a month ago.  I have spent significant emotional energy over something I truly and deeply believe in.  And I refuse to acknowledge that no good has come of it.

Still - the toll over political strategy over what is largely seen as a "symbolic" bill given the slim chance that it will be signed into law while the sitting president remains in place remains staggering.  That's what I still can't get past - what's the price for this?  To some, apparently the price is secondary or perhaps even irrelevant.  To others, it's everything.  Either way, somewhere in all of what has happened people are lying.  People are stabbing others in the back.  People are doing everything they can to "win".  Perhaps that's what politics in this country is all about these days.

The questions over ENDA strategy have exposed sharp divisions not only among LGBT advocacy organizations but also among congressional allies. On one side of the strategy debate, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) who, like Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), is openly gay, said that prior to House leadership’s decision to split the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) into two bills two weeks ago, her own count of votes found that there were enough votes to narrowly pass H.R. 2015, the original ENDA bill that would provide employment protections on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. Jerilyn Goodman, a spokesperson for Baldwin, confirmed that Baldwin told advocates about her own vote count during an off-the-record conference call last week with activists from United ENDA.

from 'Baldwin, Frank disagreed on vote count' (Oct. 18)

This fight has not gone unnoticed.  Mainstream news is watching.  The Religious Right is watching.  Republicans are watching.  Those who would typically be outside of hearing range for a family squabble have noticed what is happening because it's big and it's important and it's unprecedented.  Some have said that Republicans are laughing at the fact that we stand as a house divided and they didn't even need to do anything to make that happen.  I very much disagree with that assessment, and I am confident that we'll be stronger overall for having gone through this.  We have learned who are friends are - those who make promises and keep them, those whose support is unwavering and unflagging, those whose vision and leadership stand head and shoulders above the rest.  We have also learned who are friends are NOT.  And, all the kissing-up in the world aftermath won't change that.  Accountability - own it.

Joe Solmonese released a statement a couple of days ago about "The Baldwin Amendment" that was unusually subdued compared to other recent HRC offerings.  Based on what they've done (and haven't done) they're still in a very uncomfortable position and I wonder if there can be a good outcome for them on this now.  I was talking with one Executive Director from a group in United ENDA yesterday who said they'll refuse to coop efforts with HRC until there is a change of leadership there - that there is too much bad blood over this now.  I think that's more an emotional response than a rational one, but it gives a glimpse to the level of emotion flowing right now.  Speaking of HRC, there's a recent interesting article about HRC worth reading:

Arguably one of the most well-known and mainstream gay rights organizations, HRC has come under serious fire over what some activists perceive to be a soft stance on trans rights. As more than 300 activist groups coalesce to fight for a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HRC refused to actively oppose an orientation-only act. Rather, the group says they’re not supporting it, but hesitates to come out for trans rights, despite the fact they’ve worked on this bill for over three years. So, why’s HRC rolling over?

from 'Necessary Evil?' (Oct. 18)

Lastly, here area couple of interesting articles that have come out in the last day.  The one from The Nation is particularly interesting - it asks "Does the 'T' Stand Alone?".  The answer as been loud and clear - No.

Gay-rights milestone draws transgender activists' outcry
Chicago Tribune, United States - Oct. 18, 2007
But the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, has been met by impassioned resistance, and it's not from conservatives opposed to gay rights. ...

Does the 'T' Stand Alone?
The Nation., NY - 22 hours ago
That decision cost HRC its sole transgender board member, Donna Rose, who resigned October 3. While Rose lauds HRC for its past work on transgender issues ...


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

9:00pm - I saw an article that provided a good overview of the ENDA saga to date:

"As the non-transgender-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act headed to the House Committee on Education and Labor for mark up on October 18, the battle raged between lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists in a united effort against Democratic Party pragmatists, with the Human Rights Campaign stuck in the middle.

The melee is re-exposing old mistrusts between LGBT groups long believed to be reconciled, causing others to take hypocritical positions, pitting openly gay and lesbian members of Congress against each other, and opening eyes to the reality of dealing with the new Democratic congressional majority."

from 'Democratic Party Politics Loom Over ENDA Fight' (Oct. 16)

There was another significant twist today in this ongoing political drama.  As mentioned  yesterday there was a Congressional committee meeting today to discuss what to do about ENDA prior to the scheduled markup on Thursday morning.  Late this evening, a press release was sent outlining a new strategy based on what has already become known as "The Baldwin Amendment":

United ENDA Supports Congresswoman Baldwin's newly announced efforts to restore gender identity protections to Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Monday, October 16, 9:45pm

WASHINGTON, DC - Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) announced today that she has secured an agreement from the Democratic leadership to introduce an amendment to H.R. 3685 that would restore gender identity protections to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  The amendment would be considered on the House floor next week, after the bill moves through the House Education and Labor Committee this Thursday.  After her announcement, the United ENDA coalition released the following statement:

Two weeks ago, our community was told that gender identity would not be included in any version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  Congressional Leadership expected our community to acquiesce.  However, United ENDA effectively communicated the strong opposition of hundreds of organizations and millions of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to leadership's efforts to advance a stripped down version of the bill.

It is because of our unprecedented efforts that new options, such as the proposed amendment by Congresswoman Baldwin, are able to come before Congress.  Members of Congress responded to the successful strategy of our coalition and many expressed their strong desire to vote for an inclusive bill that protects all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

Clearly, our preferred strategy is to pass the original ENDA (H.R. 2015) out of committee.  However, if we are faced with a non-inclusive bill following the committee vote, we will work with Congresswoman Baldwin to repair ENDA to include protections on the basis of gender identity.  We appreciate that Congressional leaders like Congresswoman Baldwin continue to share our commitment to pass an inclusive bill, and we expect Speaker Pelosi and the House leadership will actively support the Baldwin amendment.


Call me simple, but this seems to be a workable approach right now.  It gives Barney the chance to float his sexual orientation only bill, and it provides an opportunity to secure a vote on a fully inclusive bill next week.  As much trust as I have lost in some during these last couple of weeks, I have all that and more in Tammy Baldwin.  I talked with her briefly when all this started to pop during Out and Equal and I had good feelings. 

10:00am - It seems as though more people are picking up on the odd timing of HRC's "Ten in Ten" Campaign that they announced last Thursday.  As I shared at the time, the timing of it seemed very odd considering that (a) the 2-week delay to send the bill to markup ran out the next day and (b) there wasn't two weeks time between that point and whenever the bill would actually start to move.  I would have expected that this would be rolled out much earlier - another example of good idea/questionable timing on their part.  The timing (and quite frankly, the motivation) became even more suspect  the very next day when HRC announced that they had brokered a "deal" to move the sexual-orientation only version of the bill. 

One blogger questions whether these oddly timed events were planned, or if HRC was "blindsided" by Dem leadership (read it here).  Either way, the answer is bad.  If HRC was merely going through the motions knowing all along that a strategy was already in place that would compromise it then they made a big mistake.  If, on the other hand, we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the Dem leadership came to them on Thursday or Friday and "blindsided" them with what they were going to do then it makes them appear out of touch and merely another pawn in this chess game of political strategy.  I can't see a good outcome for them in any of this...

HRC held a town-hall meeting in Atlanta last night to explain HRC's strategy to the local community.  I'm told that somewhere around 15 people showed up, excluding the panel of people that they had collected to explain.  Some in attendance asked tough questions about what and why.  One friend who attended said she used the phrase "hold their feet to the fire" several times.  One word I highlighted a couple of weeks ago that I felt would be a significant one in coming weeks was "accountability".  Anyway, I expect that there will need to be more of these in coming weeks and months although, at this point, I think many of our ears have closed so anything we're told is necessarily suspect. The other big word at play right now is "credibility" and recent events in HRC-land have drained that to the point where it's in sadly short supply for many.  Thanks to Tracee for arranging this. 

Monday, October 15, 2007

4:30pm - As if there weren't already enough "drama" in the ongoing ENDA saga I just got an Action Alert about a meeting on Capitol Hill scheduled for tomorrow:

House committee meets Tuesday to decide whether or not a version of ENDA that cuts out protections for transgender people will advance in Congress


Your Representative needs to hear from you TODAY

The House Education and Labor Committee is holding a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the strategy proposed by some House leaders to pass an ENDA that cuts out protections for transgender people.  A committee vote on the bill is tentatively scheduled for Thursday.


A list of Committee members is available at:

Your Representative needs to hear from you TODAY about your opposition to the flawed strategy of advancing a bill that leaves transgender people behind.


Call your Representative right now at 202-224-3121, even if you have already called him/her already about this issue.  Tell him/her to oppose advancing H.R. 3685, the bill that leaves transgender people behind.  Tell him/her to push for a vote on H.R. 2015, the transgender-inclusive ENDA, instead.


Please call today.  You have been asked to do a lot in the last few weeks to support transgender nondiscrimination protections.  The action you take today might make the difference.

Just a hunch here, but whatever comes out of this meeting I have a feeling that HRC will claim credit for it. Or, is it blame??  We shall see.

My in-box is being deluged by Action Alerts.  Some are more interesting than others.  Here is one from Equality Arizona:

No ENDA Better Than Bad ENDA

In an unprecedented act, Congressional leadership is moving forward to pass civil rights legislation that is not supported by a single organization within the lgbt community that the bill is intended to protect.


House leaders intend to schedule HR 3685 for mark-up in the House Education and Labor Committee on Thursday, October 18, with a floor vote as soon as October 23. HR 3685 is an employment non-discrimination bill that does NOT ban discrimination based on gender identity; it also includes a far more sweeping religious exemption than we have seen in any other civil rights legislation of this kind. This bill is opposed by over 300 lgbt organizations. Tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and our allies have contacted our members of Congress to express our dismay and to urge Congress to only consider HR 2015, the inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act that will best protect ALL members of our community.

What will it take to get Congress to listen to the American people? Your voice is urgently needed! Please call, fax, and email your representative in the House TODAY -- even if you have already done so. We must continue to stand together to make our voices heard.

Thank you for standing united with Equality Arizona, the Equality Federation and over 300 other organizations.


Barbara McCullough-Jones, Executive Director Equality Arizona

Toni Broaddus, Executive Director Equality Federation


Sunday, October 14, 2007

11:30pm - As if the ENDA mess weren't cantankerous enough, the closest thing I can think of that compares with where this is going is the Civil War.  GLBT organizations around the country are actively asking their friends in Congress to vote "no" for a non-inclusive ENDA.  They'd rather kill it in Conference, or on the floor of the Legislature, than have it pass. They must feel odd being on the same side of a gay issue as the Republicans and the Religious Right - politics makes odd bed-fellows.  HRC, on the other hand, is actively involved in getting that non-inclusive ENDA passed.  Other than Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi they have no bed-fellows.  They're out there all alone.

This fight isn't confined to the GLBT community - it has spilled into mainstream circles as well.  One article in the Seattle Times today paints the picture this way;

"At a rally on Seattle's Capitol Hill today, gay-rights activists will join a nationwide call for defeat of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would ban discrimination in the workplace against people who are gay.

This is huge for the gay community, which has waited nearly 30 years to reach this point. And when U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., first introduced the measure earlier this year, it included protections for the entire community — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

But in recent weeks, Frank, who is gay, told the LGBT community that he needed to strip gender identity from the measure, essentially excluding transgender people, because with them he didn't have the votes to win passage in the House of Representatives. "

from 'Some Gays Oppose Bill to Prohibit Bias on Job'

I think Mara Keisling from NCTE has done a pretty good job containing all the emotions she has been feeling as this has unfolded.  I remember sitting at a lunchtime briefing during Out and Equal, shortly after Congressman Frank introduced the split bills, and she refused to acknowledged that anyone had "screwed" us.  Yet.  She even had most of her sense of humor left, joking that the new version of the bill would be renamed the Marginalized American Rights Act - or MARA.  Her sense of humor about this is long gone.

In one of her strongest, most direct public statements she takes HRC to task in a big way in her latest NCTE update (dated Oct. 13).

Daily Update
from Mara Keisling, NCTE Executive Director
Saturday, October 13

Obviously, I should probably share my take on what most of you have probably heard happened yesterday. In general, we rarely talk about specific things said at specific meetings by specific people. I'll adhere to that guideline here as well, but since so many others have talked about the meeting including at least one organization that began making media calls before the meeting actually occurred, I will give you my straight take on what it all means.

Nothing new happened in terms of which ENDA bill will be running.

For the last couple of weeks, we have been told that our allies in Congress were 1) intending to have a vote on the non-inclusive bill (H.R. 3685) that no one wants and no one thinks will become law, while 2) the inclusive bill (H.R. 2015) might someday get a vote if we could prove we have the votes. The offer made yesterday and apparently brokered by HRC (according to them) without input or knowledge from NCTE or any other LGBT organization is exactly the same: our allies in Congress are 1) intending to have a vote on the non-inclusive bill (H.R. 3685) that no one wants and no one thinks will become law, while 2) the inclusive bill (H.R. 2015) might someday get a vote if we can prove we have the votes. Sounds the same, doesn't it? If you feel confused, it's because there hasn't been a "new deal" put on the table. It has though apparently been officially brokered and announced by HRC this time.

HRC's "new deal" is entirely spin meant to undermine the unprecedented grassroots efforts of hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals in order to allow movement of their vanity bill that no one including Speaker Pelosi or Congressman Frank says they really want. Even HRC claims they don't want it even though they support it. Of course House leadership says they will hold a vote when there are sufficient votes, but it is our position (and the position of actual members of Congress) that there were sufficient votes three weeks ago. Yet the bill was pulled from consideration then and we have been promised that no vote will be held-that's what started this crisis. We have had and we do have the votes to pass H.R. 2015 and ask for a vote on this unified bill now.

We sincerely appreciate the work that the Speaker has put into advancing all LGBT rights and we acknowledge and treasure her commitment to seeing this through until the passage of rights for all of us. But we strongly disagree with and oppose this strategy. We oppose H.R. 3685 and believe taking Committee action on this bad bill is extremely harmful to our collective effort to win civil rights for all LGBT people.

NCTE is willing to hold double secret negotiations also to get this point across if that will help.

Mara Keisling
Executive Director
National Center for Transgender Equality

PS - We still need you to call your U.S. Representatives and tell them you want HR 2015 only. Get your friends, family, neighbors, etc. to do the same. If you have called once, then do it again now.

I think we have he votes, too.  That's what I just can't understand.  They say we don't have the votes but none of us has any proof to offer - they ask us to trust them on that.  Frankly, I wouldn't trust anyone on any of this - I've see way too much lying, self-serving rhetoric, broken promises, and personal agenda already.  I said it last week and I'll say it again- if our "friends" had spent have as much time and energy trying to get the fully inclusive bill passed as they've spent arguing why it won't it would have a much better chance.  Instead, we've got civil war. 

An article in today's San Francisco Sentinel sums things up pretty well:

...the full range of San Francisco leadership promptly stood as one Friday backing transgender inclusion, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris , San Francisco Assessor Phil Ting, California State legislators, and Democratic Party leadership in this very Democratic town.

Their decision is not another example of San Francisco leading the nation and transgender people are not another class of people with bruised feelings.

Transgenders are a class of people murdered with de facto impunity, even before considering their 70% unemployment rate a problem to ponder.

By will and backing of the people of San Francisco, this City’s move to pragmatic reach for prosperity and security embraces everyone.

As always, San Francisco stands firm on the lonely cutting edge of respite for the nation’s unloved.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

6:00pm - The events leading up to, and the outcome from, yesterday's announced agreement between HRC and Dem leadership to move forward with a gay only version of ENDA continue to reverberate throughout the GLBT stratosphere.

I received some details about the meeting on Capitol Hill yesterday afternoon:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, NGLTF President Matt Foreman has been a vocal leader in opposing this strategy and he was quick off the mark with a response:

"We completely disagree with this proposed strategy – it simply makes no sense," said executive director Matt Foreman in a statement.

"If the goal is moving an ENDA that protects all of us, passing a flawed, gay-only bill utterly undermines that objective. The notion that the House of Representatives will be willing to revisit a different ENDA before the end of the calendar year – when it has been unwilling or unable to take up a single pro-gay matter over the last 34 years -is more than implausible."

from 'Groups Slam Deal on ENDA'

HRC sent a follow-up communication today providing a much different perspective:

What Speaker Pelosi’s Commitment to an Inclusive ENDA Means for the GLBT Community

On Friday, October 12th, 2007, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, working in conjunction with the Human Rights Campaign’s policy team, announced her commitment to secure a floor vote in the United States House of Representatives on an inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In a statement released Friday evening, Drew Hammill, Press Secretary for the Speaker of the House, stated, "the Speaker is committed to passing a fully-inclusive bill once it is proven that the commitments to pass the legislation exists."

Unprecedented Commitment

It is a rare occurrence for the Speaker of the House to make public declarations committing to floor action on a piece of legislation. Throughout a session of Congress, thousands of bills are introduced without receiving any, or substantial, legislative action.

Numerous factors, ranging from the legislative agenda, legislative calendar, committee calendars, etc., influence the nature in which a bill moves through the legislative process. The Speaker of the House putting her "stamp of approval" on the movement of a bill to the floor for a vote of the entire House of Representatives is a significant and influential commitment rarely received by the overwhelming majority of legislation.

Flexible Timetable for Advocacy

Ten days ago, the Democratic Leadership cancelled a scheduled mark-upon a non-inclusive ENDA granting advocacy organizations more time to educate Members of Congress on the need for gender identity protections in the workplace.

Friday’s announcement is essentially an indefinite extension of that offer -- providing GLBT advocacy organizations the opportunityand motivation to continue increased lobbying efforts to gain support for a fully inclusive bill.

Self Determination

Within hours of this major development towards an inclusive ENDA, vocal critics not involved with internal legislative discussions, wrongly characterized this extension as a means to kill the bill. In fact, the leadership has consistently put forth legislative options to expedite the process to attain a vote on a fully inclusive bill.

Friday’s announcement by Speaker Pelosi not only reaffirms their intentions of a House vote but does so by providing GLBT organizations with the opportunity to continue building support for an inclusive ENDA. A vote on a fully inclusive bill was placed on a fast-track by Speaker Pelosi how fast the bill travels on that track is in the hands of the entire GLBT community, partnering with our key allies on the Hill, to continue the education process.

Road Map for Success

A commitment to legislative action by the Speaker of the House on individual pieces of legislation typically does not happen. The Speaker's and Rep. Frank's legislative path for action on ENDA, while not ideal, follows the path of other civil rights and business regulatory legislation.  For example, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was introduced in five consecutive congresses for eight years and was vetoed twice by former President Bush before it was finally signed into law on February 5, 1993, by President Clinton. Each time the FMLA was introduced, Members built upon the protection from the previous year’s legislative action. Additionally, each piece of civil rights legislation passed by Congress -- in1957, 1960, 1963,1965, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1990-- continued the legislative path of the expansion of essential civil rights protections in law.

Additional details, and follow-up comment from Joe Solmonese are available in Pelosi/HRC ENDA 'Bargain - the Inside Story.  The most telling comment from Joe, I think, isn't directly related to what's happening now but it touches upon what happens later.  When he acknowledges that the other organizations were not "embracing" this strategy he says, "Ultimately I hope they will come around."  Given the bad blood that is spilling and what I'm hearing, I have serious doubts.  Make no mistake - this schism has permanently changed the dynamics of GLBT political advocacy in Washington. Things will not go back to "usual" once this is done just as I think there are some significant community dynamic shifts on the horizon, as well.


Friday, October 12, 2007

11:15pm - I got a call during my drive from Rochester to NYC this evening about the meeting on Capitol Hill that people are talking about tonight.  Several of the key "players" in the ENDA saga were summoned and told what was going to happen.  It was the first of several I would receive.

The result of that meeting is either very good or very bad, depending on who you want to believe or what you want to happen.  Dueling press releases spin the outcome in very different ways.

The first one in my in-box tonight is from HRC.  Here is their take, plus their "talking points":

Brad Luna | Phone: 202/216.1514 | Cell: 202/812.8140
Rachel Balick | Phone: 202/216.1516 | Cell: 202/246.1226

Human Rights Campaign Secures Unprecedented Commitment from House Speaker for Vote on Inclusive ENDA
HRC Works with Speaker to Develop Solution to Bring Inclusive ENDA for a Vote Once Support Is Demonstrated by GLBT Community

WASHINGTON—The Human Rights Campaign has collaborated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to craft a solution to the controversy surrounding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Today, in a meeting with HRC and other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups, Speaker Pelosi took an unprecedented step and committed to giving H.R. 2015, the fully-inclusive version of the bill, a floor vote in the House once enough support for it to pass has been secured. This commitment by the Speaker of the House is an unprecedented departure from the usual delays seen in Congress on an issue that will have already been considered by the full House.

Additionally, as the community continues to advocate and educate Members of Congress to secure enough commitments for final passage, the inclusive version of the legislation will receive committee hearings.

Although H.R. 3685, the version of the bill that provides workplace protections on the basis of sexual orientation only, will move to committee mark-up next week, Speaker Pelosi has given HRC her word that as soon as the commitments to pass a fully-inclusive ENDA are acquired, she will move that bill ahead.

“Speaker Pelosi’s promise to put a fully-inclusive ENDA to a vote continues to underline HRC’s passionate advocacy on behalf of the entire GLBT community,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Our strategy throughout has been to stay at the table and fight for the ultimate goal that we all share. Today, that strategy has proven to be successful. With this commitment, the inclusive ENDA bill will continue to receive legislative action as it moves through the committee hearing process during the time HRC, and other coalition organizations, continue to advocate directly with Members to support this critical inclusive workplace protection bill.”

Solmonese continued, “Since the introduction of a sexual orientation only ENDA, HRC has ramped up its efforts to push for a fully inclusive ENDA that protects our whole community. Through calls to action to our supporters and frequent visits to Capitol Hill by our staff, Board of Directors and volunteers, HRC has fought hard to receive the kind of commitment that Speaker Pelosi gave us today.”

HRC has generated more that 80,000 calls, e-mails, letters and visits to Capitol Hill—more than any other GLBT or allied organization.

“Now the real work begins,” continued Solmonese. “We must maintain the momentum we have built up to persist in educating members of Congress and the public about issues facing the transgender community. HRC will continue to lead the lobbying and education campaign until we reach the goal we all share—workplace protections for the entire GLBT community.”

Below is a background document on HRC’s work to advance a fully-inclusive ENDA.

HRC: Leading the Fight for a Fully Inclusive ENDA

“HRC has been a lead organization in advocating for a trans-inclusive bill, targeting moderate members of Congress for support.”
(The Advocate, September 28, 2007)

FACT: HRC, with its team of seasoned lobbyists on Capitol Hill, first started the quest for ENDA in 1994. HRC began pushing for a gender identity-inclusive bill in 2004 and was a key part of the effort to draft an ENDA that protects our entire community.

FACT: HRC launched a full-scale, nationwide call to action, urging its 750,000 members and supporters to contact their representatives and stand behind fully inclusive legislation providing the same protections to all GLBT people.

FACT: HRC’s lobby team, at a key moment, descended upon Capitol Hill for a comprehensive lobbying day with over 100 people, including HRC’s Board and numerous volunteers, pushing more than 130 congressional representatives to pass a fully-inclusive ENDA.

FACT: HRC’s Board of Directors reaffirmed the 2004 policy supporting a fully inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The board did not support a bill that stripped out gender identity.

FACT: HRC focused grassroots organizing efforts in 40 congressional districts across the country targeting moderate members of Congress to secure its passage.

FACT: HRC launched the “10 in 10” drive, urging supporters to ask ten friends to contact congressional representatives in the next ten days.

FACT: HRC generated more than 80,000 e-mails, calls, letters and visits to members of Congress in support of the inclusive bill—more than any other GLBT organization.

FACT: HRC launched a website,, dedicated to passing a fully inclusive ENDA; more than 200,000 people have visited the site since July.

FACT: HRC secured the active support of corporate America, with 52 companies joining our Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness.

FACT: HRC and its Religion and Faith Program reached out to faith leaders across the country, giving voice to thousands of people who otherwise would not be reached.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Human Rights Campaign Talking Points on Speaker Pelosi’s Commitment to Fully-Inclusive ENDA – October 12, 2007

The Human Rights Campaign has collaborated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to craft a solution to the controversy surrounding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Today, in a meeting with HRC and other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups, Speaker Pelosi took an unprecedented step and committed to giving H.R. 2015, the fully-inclusive version of the bill, a floor vote in the House once enough support for it to pass has been secured. This commitment by the Speaker of the House is an unprecedented departure from the usual delays seen in Congress on an issue that will have already been considered by the full House.

Additionally, as the community continues to advocate and educate Members of Congress to secure enough commitments for final passage, the inclusive version of the legislation will receive committee hearings.

Although H.R. 3685, the version of the bill that provides workplace protections on the basis of sexual orientation only, will move to committee mark-up next week, Speaker Pelosi has given HRC her word that as soon as the commitments to pass a fully-inclusive ENDA are acquired, she will move that bill ahead.

Speaker Pelosi’s promise to put a fully-inclusive ENDA to a vote continues to underline HRC’s passionate advocacy on behalf of the entire GLBT community.

Since the announcement that ENDA could be stripped of language that protects workers against discrimination based on gender identity, HRC has ramped up its efforts to push for a fully inclusive ENDA that protects our whole community. Through calls to action to our supporters and frequent visits to Capitol Hill by our staff, Board of Directors and volunteers, HRC has fought hard to receive the kind of commitment that Speaker Pelosi gave us today.

Our strategy throughout has been to stay at the table and fight for the ultimate goal that we all share. Today, that strategy has proven to be successful.

HRC has generated more that 80,000 calls, e-mails, letters and visits to Capitol Hill—more than any other GLBT or allied organization.

Now the real work begins. We must maintain the momentum we have built up to persist in educating members of Congress and the public about issues facing the transgender community. HRC will continue to lead the lobbying and education campaign until we reach the goal we all share—workplace protections for the entire GLBT community.


If you remove all the extra words that cloud what they're really trying to say here you get one simple sentence:

H.R. 3685, the version of the bill that provides workplace protections on the basis of sexual orientation only, will move to committee mark-up next week.

The rest seems to be there to soften the blow and, in fact, make it seem like that's a good thing to anyone who might be reading.

In the talking points a little farther down there's another key sentence, again wrapped in a gaily colored shroud and topped with a bow to sound like good news, but as far as I'm concerned it's the kiss of death:

Speaker Pelosi has given HRC her word that as soon as the commitments to pass a fully-inclusive ENDA are acquired, she will move that bill ahead.

In politico-speak that means "Don't Hold Your Breath"......

* * * *

Right after that, I got a update from the Gay and Lesbian Task Force and a similar one from NCTE:

A team of us just returned from a meeting with leadership staff.  I wish I had better news to report.  Here’s the rundown:


They intend to move forward with a non-inclusive bill.  They intend to schedule the sexual orientation-only bill for next Thursday in the House Education and Labor Committee.


While they have offered to keep HR2015 (the fully inclusive bill) on the table for consideration, it was clear to everyone at the meeting that with this proposed strategy, it would be much more difficult to have a vote on a united bill anytime soon.  HR2015 is the bill we must continue to fight for. 


This weekend, we are preparing new action alerts and press statements so that we can come out swinging against this new strategy on Monday.  We must ramp up our communication with every member of Congress and especially members of the House Education and Labor Committee.  We must express how much we disagree advancing a bill that leaves some in our community behind, and we must be clear about how we only support a fully inclusive ENDA (HR2015), and oppose anything else. 


You can find a list of the House Education and Labor Committee members here:


We will send more information out over the weekend, but I wanted to get this update out to you right away.  And, if you can find your Representative at a public event this weekend, please try to deliver this message to him/her in person.


* * * *

A little later I got something from a trusted activist friend that is now making the rounds:

You may have seen the following release from the Human Rights Campaign.  Please do NOT be distracted by this release.

This is NOT a win.  Our sources in Congressional offices are telling us that HRC is ACTIVELY LOBBYING for the non-inclusive bill despite what they are telling us, their members and the press.  I have personally heard from friends of mine who work for HRC who are distraught over this tactic.  Additionally, this week we have been working with Congresswoman Baldwin on securing Members to a) support HR 2015 and b) oppose any Republican motion to recommit (the fear of losing Democrats on this vote was the excuse given to move the substitute bill). 
While we have had great success in securing support, the Members who have not given their support to opposing a motion to recommit have told us they won't give their support because they are hearing double-speak from certain influential individuals and certain influential organizations.

Again, this is NOT a win.  This is a creative way of praising individuals for trying to kill HR 2015.

I believe there is more to come on this charge that, contrary to their recently re-committed board position, HRC is actively supporting the non-inclusive bill.  The irony here is that there was a time when I would have defended HRC over this.  However, given Joe's recent history of integrity and honesty (can you spell SCC?)  I'm more than a little skeptical that HRC has done anything heroic here.  The non-inclusive bill is moving forward (big surprise there), they're holding the carrot of the fully inclusive bill (HR 2015) out there - out of reach, and things are moving forward to pass the WRONG bill.  Somehow, this all seems to be part of the plan that was set into motion a couple of weeks ago.  I can't find a reason to celebrate.

Lastly, I got a release from Pride at Work:

Democratic Leadership Moves Forward With Plan To Push Sexual Orientation Only ENDA

Friday- October 12, 2007: Today in the U.S. Capitol, a coalition of  LGBT and allied organizations, including Pride At Work, met
with leadership from Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Frank, and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin's office about the status of the
Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Pride At Work is part of the UnitedENDA campaign which is calling for passage of H.R. 2015, ENDA, which includes gender
identity. Our community has spoken and demanded an inclusive bill. Rest assured that this demand was vocally expressed to
leadership in the House. Unfortunately, House leadership has decided to go ahead with the strategy of pushing an inadequate
bill that does not include gender identity.

It should be noted that Congresswoman Baldwin opposes this strategy. This strategy is already having disastrous effects in
the states as well, with Florida elected officials removing an inclusive non-discrimination bill from the legislative docket
for one bill that contains sexual orientation and a separate bill for gender identity.

Pride At Work opposes this strategy unequivocally. We have been raising our voices and this struggle is far from over.

We encourage you now to call members of the House Education and Labor Committee and ask that they only support HR 2015, ENDA
with gender identity inclusion and not HR 3685. The members of the committee are below. Take a moment and call some offices and
let them know that you support an inclusive bill. The house switchboard is 202-224-3121. If you have a good relationship
with one of the Representatives below or your union does, please ask them to make a call.

We also ask you to call Speaker Pelosi directly and demand she take the road that protects all in our community and not just a few.

Unfortunately. just like with the Iraq War, our leadership is taking the road of political expedience. We have to let them
know we will not travel that road with them.


It has already become news (Read the WashingtonBlade story here).  I think the last paragraph in The Advocate's story is particularly important:

"Pelosi's decision is unusual in that bills that will be voted on by the full House, as the sexual orientation-only ENDA will be, are rarely given additional consideration in another form."

Unusual?  Yes.  Because it never happens.  Kiss of Death.

Still, this isn't over - not by a long shot.  I expect more surprises.  Get ready.


4pm: This will be short, as I need to hit the road to get to NYC for the GLAAD Board meeting and I'd like to get as much road behind me as I can while it's still light outside.

Tammy Baldwin released a wonderful statement of support titled "Keeping Your Eyes on the Prize"  (read it here).  It's really quite the contrast to the "throw in the towel", incremental, best and fastest way, MY way approach that Barney has been barking all week.  In her statement she says that there will be time to address "Distracting Issues" later.  I wonder if she's talking about Congressman Frank.  In any event, I'm sure he almost swallowed his tongue when he saw that.

I must say, I'm really impressed by the way that Matt Foreman, President of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, has really stepped up in all of this.  With HRC falling out of the driver's seat by first remaining oddly silent as all of this was beginning to swirl and then choosing to go it alone by refusing to oppose a non-inclusive ENDA early last week the Task Force has become a Driving Force.  The same as Joe's falling star seems to be tarnishing and dull over these past couple of weeks, Matt is coming out swinging and seems to be duking it out with Congressman Frank in every ENDA article I read.  He was quick off the mark with his article "A non-transgender inclusive ENDA? No Way!" all the way back on September 27 and he's been at the forefront ever since.  His article "All of Us, Every One of Us" is a call to action, and many have taken up the charge.  He's one of many, but he's one who has impressed.  I think there will be/needs to be some serious community leadership assessment once all this is said and done.  

Speaking of Mr. Joe, he sent out a week-end update on "latest developments in regard to ENDA and the efforts HRC has undertaken in support of an inclusive bill".

Activities around ENDA have been intensely focused this week on securing the votes for an inclusive ENDA.  HRC continued its Field efforts in the 66 targeted districts.  In addition, HRC's lobbying team is coordinating daily with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and other coalition partners, including other national GLBT organizations, on reaching out to the targeted offices.  This effort will continue until a final decision is reached by the House Leadership on what version of ENDA will be considered.   HRC's Workplace staff worked with 52 corporations supporting ENDA as part of the Coalition for Workplace Fairness on a letter in support of an inclusive ENDA.  An action alert "Ten for Ten" went out to our 750,000 HRC Members and supporters asking them to find ten friends to contact Congress in support of an inclusive bill.  More than 25,000 letters/calls have gone to Congress since this intensive campaign began, and the number keeps growing.

The two week delay that HRC secured ends today.  We expect that the House Leadership will ask the coalition groups to present results early next week and then a decision on next steps will be made by the Leadership. 

I find Joe's comment about the delay in the markup ending today to be interesting considering that HRC just launched something they're calling "10 in 10".

One news article (Frank Defends Gay-Only ENDA) says:

"After remaining on the sidelines for much of the first week of the heated debate, HRC this week announced it was leading a "10 in 10" campaign for a trans-inclusive ENDA. The nation's largest gay rights organization is urging community members to ask 10 friends to contact their congressional representatives in the next 10 days. For more information on the campaign, visit"

The program was launched on 10/11 (yesterday).  It hopes to get 10,000 letters to Congress in 10 days.  But the two-week delay ends today.  I don't know about anyone else, but this seems to be more of that fuzzy math.  It doesn't seem like there's ten days between now and whatever happens next.  Maybe if this had been rolled out a week ago it might have had more "Uuuumph".  At this point, it seems to me like too little, way too late.  Perhaps for effect?

I find it interesting that the split in the Dems in terms of ideology and approach seems very similar to the split between Republicans and Democrats.  On one hand you've got "conservative" strategists concerned with political practicality, incrementalism, and hard-line politics.  I'm calling these the Republican Dems, and a good example of this animal would be Barney Frank.  On the other hand, you've got more liberal thinkers who are more "heart" oriented.  They want to do what's "right", not necessarily what's easiest or most practical.  They are more in tune with the rest of the GLBT community.  These are the Dem-Dems, whose champion at this point is Tammy Baldwin.  Dem-Dem or Rep-Dem?  To be a democrat these days is certainly not a one size fits all.  Just as I think we need to seriously consider our power-players in the community when all this is done, we need to consider our "friends" in Congress, as well.  It's easy to be a friend when you're not tested.  Well - this is the test.

Onwards and upwards.