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":
ENDA: My Response to the HRC Board Decision
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
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
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
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
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
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"
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
An Elephant's word is one hundred percent.
A person’s a person, no matter how
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
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
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
Read the full posting here:
What Next? -
TransAdvocate.com, 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).
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:
One inconsistency immediately jumps out. Here is the original
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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...
And, there is analysis.. This one from TortDeform: The
Justice Defense Blog:
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
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
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.
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.
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
expressing sadness over the
discriminatory decision, but vowed to
continue the fight. Says president Matt
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
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.
Rights Campaign - the massively powerful
and wealthy non-profit whose lobbying
helped pass this non-inclusive piece of
legislation - sent out a similar
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.
Solmonese himself doesn’t mention the
lack of trans rights, HRC’s press folk
did express “disappointment” that HR
3685 neglects countless American
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.’
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.
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
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.
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."
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
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."
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:
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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 365Gay.com. 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
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?
I received an email yesterday from Angela Clements, former HRC lead lobbyist for
ENDA (how's that for irony?) that she forwarded to HRC.
November 06, 2007 12:42 PM To: 'email@example.com' Cc: 'firstname.lastname@example.org' Subject: Deep
disappointment in HRC's support of a non-inclusive ENDA
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
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
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:
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
"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
HRC's disdain for its constituents
is more than evident.
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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
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.
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
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
"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
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.
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
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.
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."
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
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
The first is an update from Mara at the National Center for Transgender
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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 TheNation.com titled
LGB Rights Bill: Hold The "T"? was reprinted on CBS.com 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
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.
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 -
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
JB: And, if you don’t get that
choice and ENDA passes without transgender protection you don’t
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
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
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
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
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:
KILL OR AMEND FLAWED ENDA (HR
JOIN EQUALITY ARIZONA & WINGSPAN IN URGING
CONGRESS TO KILL OR AMEND ENDA (HR 3685) TO RESTORE GENDER IDENTITY
PROTECTIONS: VOTE YES ON BALDWIN AMENDMENT
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
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.
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:
Foreman will appear on Logo tonight to discuss Employment
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)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
11pm - There is an interview with Barney Frank, broadcast on Logo
tonight, available online at the 365gay.com 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
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.
I'm already getting updates from the various organizations
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
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 365Gay.com 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
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.
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
Advocate.com that is well worth reading:
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
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
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Your Representative needs to hear from you TODAY
about your opposition to the flawed strategy of
advancing a bill that leaves transgender people
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,
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
My in-box is being deluged by Action Alerts. Some
are more interesting than others. Here is one from
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.
URGE YOUR CONGRESS MEMBERS TO LISTEN TO THE LGBT COMMUNITY AND
OUR ALLIES! WE OPPOSE HR 3685 - BUT CONGRESS NEEDS TO HEAR IT AGAIN!
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
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
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. "
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).
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
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
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.
...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
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:
Groups that are part of the coalition were notified at 7pm
on Thursday to be at the Capitol for a meeting yesterday afternoon at 4.
They met in a conference room in the Capitol. The group included staffers
for Nancy Pelosi, Tammy Baldwin, and Barney Frank in addition to a half
dozen leaders from the
A staffer asked if the coalition could
guarantee 218 votes on the fully-inclusive ENDA (already knowing the answer
to the question). Leaders of the coalition explained that it was difficult
to gauge the true number given the fact that the bill's sponsor was doing
his best to undermine their efforts.
The staffer then explained the strategy that they (HRC and Dem
leadership) were planning to take: to move the non-inclusive version of the
bill into committee markup next Thursday.
He went on to explain that Speaker Pelosi would leave the inclusive version on the table and would
move that forward if/when there were enough guaranteed votes to pass it.
Coalition leaders protested indicating that it just
didn't make any sense.
Near the end of the meeting HRC President Joe Solmonese spoke, saying
that HRC and the Dem leadership agreed that their strategy to move the Sexual-Orientation
version of ENDA forward was the best strategy to ultimately achieve a fully
I'm told that HRC had lobbyists on the hill for
2 days, actively lobbying legislators to support the SO-only version of the bill that is
now primed to move.
Given that fact, along with the acknowledged 'deal'
that HRC made with Democratic leadership to move the SO only bill forward, some have
questioned me as to whether those actions are contrary to the HRC Board's
policy as outlined in their Press Release of October 2 (direct quote: "HRC
will not support the newly introduced sexual orientation only bill.")
It would seem so.
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
"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."
HRC sent a follow-up communication today providing a much different
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
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
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
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
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
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
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":
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 12, 2007
Brad Luna | Phone: 202/216.1514 | Cell: 202/812.8140
Rachel Balick | Phone: 202/216.1516 | Cell: 202/246.1226
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
Below is a background document
on HRC’s work to advance a fully-inclusive ENDA.
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
FACT: HRC launched a
website, www.PassEndaNow.org, dedicated to passing a fully
inclusive ENDA; more than 200,000 people have visited the site
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:
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.
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.
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.
find a list of the House Education and Labor Committee
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
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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
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
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
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
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.