Thursday, November 08, 2007



Just one more step & Rudy loses full employment protection

Jesse Lee from Speaker Pelosi's office did some blogging about the Democrats' passage of ENDA yesterday. I was really excited when I read about it-- and proud of the Democrats, who I've had so many disagreements with lately. I started writing a post calling Pelosi and her team "brave and noble." Then I started reading more about the bill and going down the list of who voted for it and who voted against it. Almost all the Republicans voted no and almost all the Democrats voted yes. And the Democrats who voted with the Republicans were just the same old Bush-enabling, homophobic, neo-confederate reactionaries who vote with Bush on everything... Heath Shuler (NC), Dan Lipinski (TN IL), John Barrow (GA), Jim Marshall (GA), Gene Taylor (MS), Bud Cramer (AL), Bob McIntyre (NC), Lincoln Davis (TN), Charlie Melacon (LA), Nick Lampson (TX), Yvette Clarke (NY), Jerrold Nadler (NY)... um... wait one second, there. Back up please. Yvette Clarke? Jerrold Nadler? The same old Bush-enabling, homophobic, neo-confederate reactionaries who vote with Bush on everything? Uh... no. Something's wrong. I started making phone calls. Then I snapped to and remembered what the argument was around this bill-- not the argument between Democrats and Republicans (and their reactionary allies inside the Democratic caucus)-- but the argument between Democrats and Democrats. Nadler and Clarke have impeccable voting records. The argument was about the "T" in "LGBT," the transgendered.

And if you think you're hated, just try walking a mile in their shoes. No group is more despised or feared-- irrationally-- than the transgendered, at least not in our copiece-macho/sexually insecure society. No minority has ever been handed their civil rights on a silver platter. It's always a messy hysterical, often bloody, violent process. Transgendered men and women have been in the vanguard of the struggle for equal rights. As a gay man I reject the benefits of ENDA until the "T" is included.

Jerrold Nadler is a Blue-America-endorsed incumbent. We love him because of days like yesterday. Here's his statement about why he voted with the Republicans and the most reactionary homophobic Democrats today.
“I am committed to the passage of an ENDA that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.  In America, we value fairness and equality, and our laws should reflect those values.  Every individual should be able to work and contribute to society without fear that she or he will be discriminated against because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I have been a lead sponsor of proposals like ENDA every time they were introduced since I became a member of the New York State Assembly back in 1977.  Since coming to Congress, I have sponsored similar legislation every single session.  And I am a proud original co-sponsor of the original bill that protects the entire LGBT community.

“In recent weeks, there has been much discussion among ENDA’s supporters about how to reach our shared goal of passing the strongest possible bill.  Some believe that a bill that does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity has a better chance of being adopted by the House. I know that those who argue for this route do so out of a sincere belief that this is the best strategy for passage at this time, not because of malice or indifference towards the transgender community.  

“I believe, however, that civil rights are best advanced by bringing forward a bill that adequately protects all members of the LGBT community.  While this may be risky, that is not reason to accept defeat before the fact, and leave behind members of the community who desperately need protections against employment discrimination.

“As we have seen in many states, the failure to include the transgender community in civil rights legislation from the beginning makes it more difficult to extend protections later.   In fact, my own state of New York, which has employment protections for lesbians and gays, has yet to extend these protections to the transgender community.

“The Senate has yet even to introduce its version of ENDA.  Indeed, even if Congress were to adopt a non-inclusive ENDA, the President has already pledged to veto this legislation.  However, we must look to the future when we have a President who will support equality.  I believe it is important we take a principled stand now, and speak with a strong and united voice for equal rights for all Americans, whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, in order to maximize the chance that, what we can enact an ENDA bill into law, it will be an inclusive bill that protects everyone’s rights.  And, we must better educate lawmakers and the public about the issues of gender identity and expression.

“While I may disagree with some of my colleagues on strategy, I assure you that we are united in support of the ultimate goal – protection from employment discrimination for the entire LGBT community. No one should underestimate the strength of that common commitment or our dedication to seeing it realized.  

“Transgender Americans – because of a lack of familiarity and understanding -- are more likely to face employment discrimination and, therefore, more in need of the protection from irrational discrimination that an inclusive ENDA would afford.

“And removing gender identity from ENDA may also leave lesbian and gay employees vulnerable to discrimination for failing to conform to gender stereotypes.  In other words, some employers and courts might take an overly restrictive view that an exclusive ENDA fails to protect lesbians who appear ‘too masculine’ or gay men who appear ‘too effeminate.’  That is not our intent – nor do we believe that it is an accurate reading of the bill – but Congressional intent does not always carry the day.  Splitting sexual orientation and gender identity disserves the entire LGBT community and invites the kind of legal mischief that has undermined other civil rights laws.

“The fundamental issue is this: there are still too many places where it is entirely legal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender employees.  We must bring an end to this unfair, unacceptable and un-American situation.  ‘Liberty and justice for all’ must not just be words we say, they must be the values reflected in our laws.

“In the past weeks, I, like many of my colleagues in the House, have heard from my constituents and from various advocacy groups, urging the adoption of an inclusive ENDA.  Like these passionate individuals and groups, I believe that full equality is our goal.  I have never seen such unanimity from the civil rights and LGBT groups on this issue – more than 300 have voiced their support for an inclusive ENDA, and have all but a very few have explicitly rejected an exclusive ENDA.

“When the House considers ENDA today, I will support the amendment, introduced by Congresswoman Baldwin, to restore the protections from discrimination based on gender identity.  Should that amendment fail, regrettably, I will not be able to vote for the underlying bill because it fails to uphold the American values of fairness and equality.”

Nadler's straight. I'm not. But keep my ENDA rights on hold 'til you're ready to extend them to the whole community.

And no, Rudy Giuliani is not Transgender; he's a transvestite, a man who dresses like a woman. Pat Robertson would never endorse a Transgendered person. He's ok with transvestites though. And among the Republican closet queens in Congress, David Dreier (CA), Phil English (PA), and Jim McCrery (LA) were so afraid of being labeled hypocrites that they voted for ENDA. Patrick McHenry (NC) and Adrian Smith (NE) don't care that when they're eventually caught propositioning a plainclothes policeman in a public toilet this vote will be hauled out and thrown in their faces.

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At 12:55 PM, Blogger Unconventional Conventionist said...

Thanks for writing this post Howie. I have reads far too much nonesense about ENDA, including totally unprincipled statements like "the T's were never part of the community."

Rights are based on principles, and crappy principles lead to fragile-at-best rights.

Thanks again.

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howie- thanks for this.

TeddySanFran had a post up at FDL at the end of September about this issue. The discussion in the thread was one of the best I've read at FDL- very thoughtful and informative.

I'd recommend a read to anyone who wants to begin to understand the issue.

Obviously for some, this was something that had no clue about, whereas for others (Dr.D) it is something that is not a new topic at all.


At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree the the "T" does need to be protected ... but, if the "T" had been in there, it wouldn't of passed. Sorry, but not willing to put my rights on hold, while many "T's" happen to be heterosexual and have the ability to marry. I don't see them putting that right on hold for us.

At 1:34 AM, Anonymous anazeem said...

I concur the "T" needs to be ensured ... be that as it may, if the "T" had been in there, it wouldn't of passed. Apologies, however not willing to put my rights on hold, while numerous "T's" happen to be hetero and can wed. I don't see them putting that privilege on hold for us.


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