…under the current political situation, we do not have sufficient support in the House to include in [ENDA] explicit protection for people who are transgender. The question facing us…is whether we should pass up the chance to adopt a very good bill [e.g. GLB-only] because it has one major gap [no protections for T’s]. I believe that it would be a grave error to let this opportunity to pass a sexual orientation nondiscrimination bill go forward, not simply because it is one of the most important advances we’ll have made in securing civil rights for Americans in decades, but because moving forward on this bill now will also better serve the ultimate goal of including people who are transgender than simply accepting total defeat today.
In other words, he said that because the votes* were there to pass a GLB-only but not a LGBT-version of ENDA, we should dump the T’s and go for it. Although he got some support for that plan from a few places, most of the LGBT & Ally community responded strongly, immediately and unitedly in rejecting Frank’s plan. To date, almost 300 LGBT & Ally organizations have signed a letter stating that under no circumstances should ENDA legislation move forward unless all elements of the LGBT community were included. Included as signers are National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays , National Black Just Coalition, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network. Human Rights Campaign continues to be an enigmatic wildcard.
*Interestingly, his stripped-down GLB-only version of ENDA only has 9 co-sponsors. The original, T-inclusive bill has 171 co-sponsors.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who has been working closely with Frank on the legislation, challenges his plan, saying
“We must bring the strongest possible bill to the floor of the House for a vote. If our adversaries wish to erode protections in the bill, we must be prepared to face that challenge and make our case. However, I believe it is a mistake to concede defeat on any issue, before our opponents even raise it.”
I emboldened that last bit of text for the following reasons:
1. I agree!
2. Since there is little to no chance of any ENDA bill making it through the Senate, and certainly zero chance of Bush signing it, no actual LGB people will be harmed by starting the dialogue now on a fully inclusive ENDA. To do as Frank suggests would be needlessly divisive to the LGBT community. And frankly, we won’t stand for it. Frank is pushing a bill that does not have the support of what he thinks is it’s constituency. And p.s., he removed more than T-folk in his stripped-down version of the bill. Read more here.
As of Friday, October 12th, this is where things stood
At a late afternoon meeting on October 12 in [Speaker] Pelosi’s office, representatives of the Democratic leadership informed key LGBT advocates that it planned to move forward with a vote on a revised version of the [non-T ENDA] covering sexual orientation but not gender identity and expression.
But in what was intended as a concession to leading LGBT organizations who have waged an uphill struggle for more than two weeks to salvage the fully inclusive version of the bill introduced earlier this year, Pelosi pledged to allow a floor vote on that original formulation once advocates indicate they have the votes to secure passage.
This means that all of us – LGBT & Allies – need to do some direct advocacy with our reps now. Links to Take Action websites can be found here. Alternately, you can find who your Rep. is here and contact them directly (this is the most effective option!). Ask them to co-sponsor the good ENDA, HR 2015. I’m calling all the Reps from my state. What the heck. Sure as shootin, the powerful anti-LGBT organizations are working overtime to see that any form of ENDA fails.
Below is a list of Members of the House of Representatives, how they voted on the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (“The Matthew Shepard Act, HR 1592), and whether or not they are Co-sponsors of H.R. 2015. Since The Matthew Shepard Act is inclusive of LGB and T people, I thought it was an interesting index of a legislator’s openness to protect the most vulnerable among us. Namely, Transgender people. PhoenixRising is using the list to approach his/her Rep in this creative way: “Howsabout getting on the sponsor list for 2015, since the whackos who are against your vote on the hate crimes bill are already after you, and your support on ENDA will shore up support among the other 78% of your district.”
Codes used are: YES = a ‘yes’ vote on HR 1592 or a bill co-sponsor for HR 2015; NV = not voting; NO = a ‘no’ vote on HR 1592; R- = The legislator is a Republican.
Names highlighted in PINK and BLUE are Republicans and Democrats, respectively, who voted YES on HR 1592 but have not yet co-sponsored HR 2015.