Saturday, October 13, 2007

These Comments are Exactly What I'm Talking About

I just wanted to thank everyone that's commented on the ENDA/GLBT issue lately. I know it's passionate. I know people are angry. I know it feels like sometimes we're making no progress. But, in the end, these conversations are exactly what we need to actually create one singular movement instead of several different movements loosely tied together. We don't have to agree all the time, but we do need to have reasonable discussions. We do need to respect differences of opinions, even if we at the same time urge people to change their mind. I feel like, over the past day or two, there's some hope of keeping this big tent well oiled.

So, let's get angry; let's get passionate... and direct that anger and passion to the real enemies. In the meantime, if Barney Frank isn't going to keep an inclusive bill, we have hundreds of other congresspeople to appeal to in order to keep it together, at least in a year where no ENDA will pass anyway. But we can't stop there; Frank says there are enough people in the house that an inclusive ENDA would be subject to manipulation. We need to target the people who would do that, convince them that they're wrong or unseat them if they prove incapable of learning or being decent human beings. That's where our anger and passion is best spent. That's how we work as one movement.

28 comments:

bostonph said...

Here's the rub.

I've never had the privilege of living in Barney's district, but everybody I know who has says he's amazingly responsive. Almost every one of them had a tale of contacting his office with a complaint and getting a personal response. It's why he gets elected year after year -- he LISTENS to his constituents and he gets things done.

I don't agree with everything he says, but he has a reputation for being extraordinarily politically astute and a long, distinguished history of advancing civil rights.

If Barney says trans inclusive ENDA is a non-starter, I'm inclined to believe that he's thought it through.

Ryan Adams said...

I agree. He's certainly thought it through and in many ways, it makes sense. In fact, originally, I was completely in favor of keeping ENDA in two. However, I thought some more... and here's why I now favor keeping it inclusive, at least for the rest of this presidential administration. We face a choice:

1. Split the bills, turn off millions of people in the movement and pass ENDA in the House, but probably not the Senate (and almost certainly not enough to sustain an almost inevitable veto).

2. Keep the bill inclusive and send a message to all the people who care about it that we value our trans brothers and sisters. Use this time to gain the support we need to pass both aspects in both houses, by wide margins. We'll say that we'll give this thing a go after the election, hopefully with a Democrat at the helm and increase our leads in the House and Senate.

That way, with a willing President and larger numbers overall, we just may be able to play hard ball and force members that are on the fence to support the inclusive bill. If we still can't pass an inclusive bill, then I guess we'll have to pass the lesser of the two.

My worry about splitting it this early in the game is that they'll stay split. We'll still have to wait for a Democratic President, but they'll just have to pass the ENDA without trans rights... and do it with flying colors. Then, all the Democrats can pat themselves on the back and completely ignore the fact they didn't touch the more difficult issue for most of the public, trans rights. I'm sure many of them will be breathing sighs of reliefs like the turds they are LOL.

Similar things have happened before and I wouldn't want to see it happen in the future; that's why I don't think waiting till '08 would be a horrible idea, we're going to be waiting anyway and at least this way we can move as one movement trying to get the votes we need to pass the inclusive bill, one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

Three points

One, yes Barney is very responsive. In 1989, my (same sex) spouse called his local office to discuss an issue. That was on a Friday. That very night he, personally, called my spouse to discuss the issue. I find Barney a little to liberal for my tastes, but the fact that he personally called back (and we hardly live in a section of his district that is known for being a gay ghetto) was quite impressive.

Two, a point that I have been beating on over at Pam's House Blend, but which Ts apparently want to ignore, is that Ts have not laid the groundwork for a T-inclusive ENDA. I was accused of being a T-phobe there, but my position was pretty much confirmed there yesterday in a post by Autumn Sandeen (who I presume is a T) My Welcome To Direct Advocacy http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3282 Ts can yell and scream all they want about how it isn't "fair" to pass a non-T-inclusive ENDA, but unless they lay the groundwork, it isn't going to pass. Welcome to the real world.

Moreover, if the Ts insistance on only a T-inclusive ENDA derails a law that might benefits G&Ls, I suspect that they will be shooting themselves in the foot in regards continuing support from many G&Ls. They already did it once, a couple of years ago, when, at the last minute their advocates lept in and threatened to derail a bill in NYS that would add "sexual orientation" to the state's anti-discrimination law because it did not include "gender identity." G&Ls had been working on the "sexual orientation" part for over 30 years.

Three, I am concerned that a down vote on the T-inclusive ENDA will make it easier for wavering Congressmen to justify a down vote on the non-T-inclusive ENDA, to be voted on later.

--raj

Laurel said...

raj, I think that Pelosi's latest press release says that the non-inclusive bill will be voted on in the next week. SHe will allow a separate vote on the inclusive bill at some unnamed time in the future when/ig the votes are there to pass it.

So, you may need to rethink your calculus re: the excuses legislators may have for not voting on the inclusive bill. The way Pelosi has set things up, the only excuse they ahve to vote against the gay-only bill is if they a) don't believe in ENDA, or b) wish to protest the splitting of the bills.

Laurel said...

continued...sorry, i submitted that too soon....

the only legit. reason legislators will have to vote against inclusive ENDA (shouuld that vote happen) is if they a) don't beleive in ENDA, or b) don't believe in protecting Ts, or c) are too chickenshit to protect Ts.

Ryan Adams said...

At this point, honestly, I just want them to shelf the whole entire thing. It's pretty clear, either way, we don't have the votes - at least to get it past the President's desk, and probably not in the Senate either.

In the meantime, we should make this the #1 goal for the entire movement. I don't think many people before thought it was, but clearly it should be.

To pass an inclusive ENDA, we're going to need transsexual and transgendered people to meet with their congresspeople and senators across the country. We need to find out who supports and who doesn't support trans inclusiveness - and hopefully before Election '08. That way, we can target the weakest, worst offenders to make the job easier. We'll have to look at primaries and general elections.

We have a lot to do and I think this fight within the community will, in the longterm, be helpful. It shows there's plenty of passion here to be turned into hard work - instead of bickering and it's certainly forced a lot of people to start seriously considering these issues. My only remaining concerns, other than passing the bill, is the fact that so many are willing to dehumanize those who have differences of opinion, but are still supportive of equality. That needs to be turned into effort to defeat our real enemies - those who are making it impossible to pass a true ENDA now.

Mark D. Snyder said...

I think what is unfortunately getting lost in this discussion is that protections based on gender identity and expression do not just protect trans people - they protect everyone based on how feminine or masculine you act.

Considering I am an effeminate male, these protections are actually more important to me than sexual orientation protections.

All of us should have laid the ground work to include these protections because they are all of ours, not just trans people's.

Ryan Adams said...

That's certainly part of it, but clearly we don't have the vote counts yet - at least by a veto-proof margin. So, we may as well keep plugging away at talking with our elected officials, in person if possible. The larger the margin of victory, the better too, so it really doesn't hurt.

Laurel said...

Mark, I couldn't agree more. The most common harassment I get as a lesbian isn't when I'm holding hands with my partner on the street, it's when I enter the women's bathroom. People care much more about my lack of femininity than they do sexual orientation. In their minds, I'm sure the two are often intertwined.

So your point is a very good one - LGB people need to be getting our butts into our legislators offices too. Legislators must be told that fighting for UnitedENDA isn't just altruistic community stuff, it is a self-serving act by LGBs. If the legislator wants to be on the right side with gay people (even if they're T-phobic), they need to support UnitedENDA too.

Anonymous said...

Laurel @ 2:01 PM

Mark, I couldn't agree more. The most common harassment I get as a lesbian isn't when I'm holding hands with my partner on the street, it's when I enter the women's bathroom. People care much more about my lack of femininity than they do sexual orientation.

You may have inadvertantly hit upon one not insubstantial issue regarding "gender identity." But you apparently don't understand--or don't want to understand--what the issue is.

We discussed this "restroom" issue on the NYTimes gay rights board (now non-existent) in regards "gender identity" five or six years ago. One of the posters, who was extremely GLBT friendly, noted that there were, indeed, many problems surrounding the restroom issue--including, but not limited to, the fear of some women, that people posing as Ts, but who are really voyeurs, may invade womens' restrooms. If your mannerisms tend toward the masculine, I can understand, but cannot condone, your discrimination. But, unless and until you and others can get women who might feel themselves to be threatened in a restroom to feel safe, you aren't going to be as successful as you might like.

It isn't an issue of ...LGB people need to be getting our butts into our legislators offices too.... It is an issue of getting the greater community--including straight people who vote--to be comfortable with Ts. You and many of those over at Pam's place, seem to want to ignore that fact. G&Ls have worked long and hard to do that; Ts have not.

BTW, I have yet to see anyone be offended by a woman entering and exiting a restroom nominally designated for men. You may wish to make use of those facilities. (Actually, the first time I saw that, many decades ago, I thought that the women were actually quite intelligent, considering the different lengths of waiting lines.

--raj

Laurel said...

Ryan, there is serious debate over the assertion that "we don't have the votes". Tammy Baldwin and others think that we do - or are close enough to push for inclusive ENDA.

raj, if you read my stuff, you know that i'm all for coming out. that is what gets heteros, expecially women going to the bathroom, to feel more comfortable with LGBTs. But they're not the ones voting on the bill. SO we need concentrate current intensified efforts on the legislators while maintaining our ongoing, never-ending coming out the the neighbors. Your right to marry in MA was protected in large part because we concentrated efforts similarly on MA legislators.

bostonph said...

Laurel,

Do you have a cite for Tammy on the votes? All I can find is this from Friday:

http://tammybaldwin.house.gov/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1416

All of the Democratic leaders involved in this discussion are committed to employment non-discrimination protections for transgender Americans. We share a common goal, but disagree over process and strategy. Yet these procedural and strategic decisions are important because they affect the ultimate question of how and when we can most quickly pass protections that include transgender people. This is how a democracy works.

I am under no illusions about the challenges of achieving our goal. But, the quest for advancement of civil rights in our nation has never been easy. It is precisely because of the discrimination these groups experience that this legislation is needed.

As is the case with all legislation, there is no guarantee of success. Everyone pressing for this legislation knows that. We know that opponents of workplace protections may offer any number of amendments designed to derail the bill, including, perhaps, an effort to remove protections based upon gender identity. I believe we must boldly face these challenges.

Perhaps some of these hostile efforts will be successful. That should not deter our work. 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.


It's pretty darn close to what Ryan's been saying, but there's nothing in there about having enough votes, just about the need to keep fighting.

bostonph said...

Dang, forgot the important bit:

The House leadership afforded supporters of the fully inclusive bill two weeks to demonstrate that sufficient support exists to withstand worst-case scenario assaults on the bill. My work whipping Members on passage of a fully inclusive bill continues. I hope that the effort will culminate in sufficient evidence that the votes exist to withstand attacks and pass a fully inclusive bill.

Emphasis mine.

Laurel said...

Bostonph, the link is here
http://tinyurl.com/24zn2w

bostonph said...

Laurel,

Thanks. That's a great read, including the reaction from Barney and the quotes from Nadler (another great Congressperson).

However the Tammy quote is from the press release I cited.

Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat and the only other out lesbian or gay member of Congress, made clear on October 11 that she thinks the original ENDA with transgender protections should be brought to the floor, even if it means a potentially crippling amendment effort by the GOP.

"Perhaps some of these hostile efforts will be successful," Baldwin said in a written statement. "That should not deter our work. 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."

She stopped short, however, of urging her colleagues to oppose the trimmed-down Frank version of the bill.


The only quote I could find saying there's enough votes is from an activist:

But Nadine Smith of Equality Florida challenged that conclusion.

"If the inclusive bill were brought forward, we believe a slim majority would support it," she said. "We believe the motion to recommit will fail if the [Democratic] leadership stops sending mixed messages, preaching inclusive language but insisting the votes to support it won't exist."

Ryan Adams said...

Laurel,

When I say "we don't have the votes," I mean beyond the House. I did hear that Tammy said we may have enough now, but I haven't heard from anyone that we'll be able to avoid a filibuster from Republicans/DINOs in the Senate or gain enough votes to overcome a veto. Either way, though, there's still some time left to make some of those congressional visits before a vote is taken place to make an impact.

Laurel said...

Bostonph, ack! you're right. i misread that. baldwin thinks we should push ahead with lgbt-enda, but it was someone from equality florida who was talking vote count. sorry for my error.

Paul Sousa said...

Ryan,

I think it's great that you could look at your own views and change them when you think necessary. Although, I disagree with you on this.

1. Saying that the bill *probably won't pass anyways* goes against the very grain of this movement's strategy that we have had for years. Our strategy has always been to try and pass bills, get people used to those ideas, and build momentum so that we can pass it in a successive session.

2. I think we have a pretty darn good chance at passing glb-enda. Especially on top of the momentum of the hate crimes bill now is the time to act. Also Bush hasn't stated whether he will try to veto an enda bill, but for good measure we could always attach it to a must -pass bill much in the same way we did with the hate crimes bill.

3. As someone else stated the groundwork still needs to be laid for a trans-enda. There is a lot of education that needs to be done on this subject. Exactly who does it cover? What instances? etc etc Over the past couples weeks we could see that gay people barely knew the answers to these questions and I think that highlights the problem even more so of education.

4. Frankly, I don't think we will be able to pass a trans inclusive enda in as little as 2-4 years. Maybe I'm just a cynic, but it has taken 30 years to get up to this point for the glb-enda and I have only recently been hearing about trans issues in the media and gay media.

I compare it to other civil rights bills/rights. Let's take for example the right to vote. The 15th Amendment passed in 1870(we're not talking about when they actually got the right to vote, but just when the bill was passed) and gave black people the right to vote. Women did not gain this right until 1920.

Personally, I don't think it would have been fair, moral, or ethical for women to try to kill the 15th Amendment because they weren't included. And this is exactly where it comes in that I have such a problem with the glbt organizations right now. What I think women should have done back then and what glbt organizations should do today is work to educate and lobby to pass their bill. They should be proactive rather than trying to kill a bill that has a chance at passing.

5. The argument that it would be quicker for trans people to be included in enda if gay people wait and or forced to stop is absolutely true. But then again should gay people have to sacrifice themselves? Again, back to the blacks and women example.....sure, women would have gained the right to vote much earlier, but blacks probably would have had to wait an additional 20 years or so as well.

This last argument I can see. Of course if you are trans you are going to want to gain your rights as quickly as possible and if you are gay you are going to want to have your rights that have you been waiting for for a very long time. And lets not forget how huge this would be for the gay community. There still isn't a single federal law protecting gay people. This would be a huge boost.

I think this last point basically boils down to can you force people to "wait"? And should you?


Furthermore, the idea that trans people will be forgotten about once the glb enda bill is passed I think is false. I mean just look at the uproar that we have had. I think it's a great thing because it caused a lot of awareness and activism. And I think that sentiment is here to stay.

Mark D. Snyder said...

Paul,
But really, hat good is ENDA if it doesn't protect us for being too femmy, or too butch? LAMBDA Legal, GLAD, and the ACLU think that the stripped version of ENDA is inadequate for several reasons including that one.

Paul Sousa said...

Mark,

Absolutely the glb-enda doesn't cover all instances of discrimination, but then again neither have other civil rights' bills in general. They have always been piecemeal.

Although I think it would do a great job of giving much needed protection to 25 million Gay Americans.

And on this topic can you provide me with a case that shows this? I haven't seen any examples. There was a one and only case that lambda legal cited and it wasn't even relevant to the argument they were trying to make.



And I have one last point to make on pragmatism.

So what we are talking about here is what group should do the waiting. Maybe Instead of waiting 8 years, the T group will be included in just 4 years of time. With such a theoretical example (maybe it's more like 5 and 10 or something not so clean cut) it would either be the glb group being forced to wait those 4 or 5 years or the T group waiting those 4 or 5 years. Seeing as how either group is going to wait roughly the same amount of time(guesstimating time, but I think it's a good timeline) it is much more practical to have the much smaller group (many hundreds of thousands compared to many millions)do the waiting.

It breaks down to one group is going to have to wait. Should one group be able to force the other to wait? If one is going to wait, which one should it be if they are both going to wait roughly the same amount of time?

Anonymous said...

Mark,
Have you called Bush's office to ask whether he'd entertain signing gay-only ENDA? Just curious what kind of response you would get, if any.
-Laurel

Laurel said...

oops, I eman Paul, not Nark.

Paul Sousa said...

Laurel,

Politicians aren't stupid. If they thought there was a high likely hood that Bush would veto enda they would attach it to a "must pass" bill just like they did with the hate crimes bill.

But I guess using that reasoning we should have killed the hate crimes bill just like the unitedenda people are trying to do with glb enda because there is a possibility Bush would veto it even though we're attaching it to a vital bill.

Anonymous said...

But really, hat good is ENDA if it doesn't protect us for being too femmy, or too butch?

Good luck with proving that. Even acting on discrimination based on orientation is difficult.

While we're at it, why not protect:

- Vegans. Why should they be forced to watch people eat meat?

- Smokers. Who's more discriminated against these days?

- Small people. There's nothing worse than going to Banana Republic and finding they're all out of Extra Medium stretch shirts.

- People with stupid haircuts.

Paul Sousa said...

ENDA just passed the House!!

Paul Sousa said...

committee

Ryan Adams said...

Paul,

I really don't think there's any right or wrong answers with this debate. The only reason why I changed my mind was because people like Laurel convinced me that we're not going to pass an ENDA outside the House. It's an uphill battle to get it through the Senate - and Mount Everest rests in the Oval Office on this issue.

I still think there's some good in just getting it to Bush's desk because there's always the chance that he'll grow a conscience in the coming weeks, doubtful as that is, but even if he doesn't, it will make for good PR and further the meme that Republicans are the party of Bigots and no decent human being would be a part of it. However, I came to think that turning a cold shoulder to a hefty portion of the movement may be more damaging than a Bush veto would be rewarding.

After Bush is gone, though, all bets are off and my recipe of what's pragmatic - to me - would be completely different. If we have solid victories in the House and Senate and win the primaries, we'll better be able to play hardball... but at the very least be able to pass something through all levels of the government necessary.

Mark D. Snyder said...

Paul you continue to make it us and them - as if trans people are seperate from the queer community - or their rights are.

Again, I remind you, that protections based on gender expression are equally as important for lesbian gay and bisexual people.

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