And just fyi, a GLB version of ENDA has repeatedly been introduced in Congress since 1974 and only ever had a vote once in the Senate, where it failed on a 49-50 vote during the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) discussion.
It’s a sad fact, but reality is that the trans movement is much further behind the gay rights movement. While we were trying to pass a trans-inclusive bill on the national level, we don’t even have trans protections here in Massachusetts or in New York.
HRC, and 70% of LGBT people, supported the pragmatic bill that could have given protections to tens of millions of Americans. And there were others, represented by United ENDA (a group of 300+ GLBT rights organizations), that supported only a trans-inclusive ENDA at any expense.
So the two options were to have a GLB bill possibly pass on the national level for the first time in history (it did pass the House by a vote of 235-184 and is currently before the Senate) or have a GLBT ENDA fail.
It was a rather historic vote. I’ve included a video of Congressman Barney Frank speaking on the bill. The 2nd half is especially touching as he almost comes to tears and had this to say:
“I feel an obligation, to 15-year-olds dreading to go to school because of the torments, to people they’ll lose their job in a gas station if someone finds out who they love. I feel an obligation to use the status I have been lucky enough to get, to help them. And I want to ask my colleagues here, Mr. Speaker, on a personal basis, please don’t fall for this sham. Don’t send me out of here having failed to help those people.”
We really get a sense of how historic this passage was.
What happened during this ENDA controversy is what shocked and angered me. Rather than simply putting all that energy towards educating our Congressmen and women and advocating for the GENDA amendment, United ENDA actually worked against the ENDA bill. Frankly (no pun intended), it’s a rather childish “If I can’t have it, no one can” mentality.
United ENDA made a statement on the day of the passage and it included this:
Equality Federation remains steadfast in its opposition to this bill – not because of what it purports to do, but because of what it fails to do.
Now fast forward to 2008 and our allies strike again.
Many gay and straight local leaders have declined to attend this year’s July 26 HRC gala at the Westin St. Francis in Union Square. They are doing so in order to voice their objection to the Washington D.C.-based organization’s backing a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act last fall that was stripped of gender identity protections.
The bill passed the House and is now before the Senate; should it be sent to President Bush, he is expected to veto it.
In addition to not attending this year’s gala, many people are refusing to support HRC until it unequivocally signs on to support only a fully inclusive ENDA. Backers of the boycott expressed disappointment with Speier’s stance and hope to speak with her directly about the ENDA controversy.
That’s fine and dandy if you don’t want to support HRC. However, this HRC gala was not a fundraiser for HRC. 100% of their proceeds were going to fighting Proposition 8 which is a ballot initiative to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage. So once again they are actively working against gay rights. It’s rather sad to see such regressive actions being taken rather than progressive action to educate and lobby on the issues.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. This is politics and the history of civil rights shows that it has always been incremental. Don’t let good be the enemy of evil. Oh, and stop working against gay rights!