Marti Abernathey

Dorothy Gale's ENDA Dreams

Filed By Marti Abernathey | October 10, 2007 11:40 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barney Frank, ENDA

I'm not sure if anyone else was watching C-Span last night at around 8pm eastern last night, but it was brutally bad. I joked with a friend that C-Span is so bad it's probably piped in to hell. I fell asleep during about the 150th post office name change and woke up around 9pm to the voice of Barney Frank and my small Pomchi, Chaz (from here on out who will be known as Toto), curled up next me. Being half awake and half in the dream world, I heard Frank say:

Some of my colleagues, some of my friends, I say to my colleagues in the gay community, maybe I will do a little stereotyping, maybe they have seen the Wizard of Oz too often. They seem to have Speaker Pelosi, a wonderful dedicated, committed supporter of human rights, confused with Glenda the good witch. They think if she waved her magic wand she could somehow change things.

He went on to say:

Now, the notion that you do not pass an antidiscrimination bill protecting large numbers of people until you can protect everybody, in my judgment, is flawed, morally and politically. It is flawed morally because I am here to help people in need. That's why I serve in this job.

If we can get a sexual orientation ban enacted, we will be protecting millions of people in this country who live in States where there is no such law. There are laws in some States and not others. The States that have the laws are probably the place where prejudice is most active.

That is a MIGHTY BIG IF. If I'm a dreamin' Dorothy, Frank most certainly is the Wizard behind the curtain.

The position taken by the various groups that want us to kill the gay rights bill now, because we do not have the votes to include transgender, are people who say to us, never pass the bill, even if you get a Democratic President who would sign it in 2009, and you get a House and Senate majority ready to pass it in early 2009, do not protect millions of people in this country against discrimination based on sexual orientation until you can protect everybody now unprotected.

I appreciate Representative Frank's work for the community, but he's being dishonest here, in a scarecrow (straw man) kind of way. He's implying that if we don't pass the bill THIS YEAR that we are denying gays and lesbians workplace protections.

If we can get a sexual orientation ban enacted, we will be protecting millions of people in this country who live in States where there is no such law. There are laws in some States and not others. The States that have the laws are probably the place where prejudice is most active.

I do not accept the argument that I am somehow morally lacking if I say, you know what, I would like to protect everybody, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, I am only at this point able to get a vote passed that protects the millions of people who are gay, lesbian and bisexual; but I will withhold from them that protection until I do anything. Because any time you insist on doing everything all at once, you will do nothing.

The stark reality is that this bill WILL NOT become law this year. As a transgender person with a gay son, I would NEVER jeopardize my own son's workplace protections because I am not protected. If there were a Democratic majority in the House, Senate, and White House, and this bill could only pass by stripping gender identity, I could live with that. But no matter how many times I click my ruby red slippers , that isn't the political reality today.

People are now having Web sites; people are bursting forward. Where were they when we needed them? I will talk about why we did not see them then and we see them now.

But the moral issue is, do you deny protection to millions of people because you can't give it to millions plus several hundred thousands? It's not the numbers that counted.

When I heard this statement I wanted to throw my picnic basket at Frank! Where were we? We were in the halls of Congress. We were educating the masses about gender identity. Groups like NGLTF, NTAC, NCTE, PFLAG, and GenderPAC have been educating and lobbying for quite some time. This isn't a moral issue at all, but a pragmatic one. Do you pass a sexual orientation bill IN THE HOUSE ONLY and set exclusion as precedent for 2009?

Usage of scare words like "kill" and "deny" are used by Frank to divide the community. How can you deny anyone anything by "killing" a bill that will never make it to the President's desk? For that matter, if Frank truly didn't have the votes for a fully inclusive bill, why was this bill brought out of committee? He calls out groups like NGLTF and the 300 or so other national and statewide organizations, saying that:

Now, I said we're going to lose. I hope I'm wrong. After we did our count and found that we didn't have the votes, all of a sudden, the cavalry mounted up. But they're coming from a long distance. I have been pleading with people in the gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender communities to lobby for us. Instead, they want to strategize, many of them. Some, no. Some have done a very good job. But many of them weren't there. And now they have announced, in the last couple of weeks, and they asked for a postponement. The Speaker correctly said sure, take a couple of weeks. It's hard to do that in a couple of weeks. Maybe they can turn it around. I will say this, Mr. Speaker, if at some point it looks like our count is turned around, I don't expect it to, but I hope it does, and we have the votes to include transgender, I'll be for that vote being taken. But I doubt very much that people will be able to undo months and years of inaction and of talking only to each other and not doing the hard lobbying within a couple of weeks.

A couple of weeks? Frank has already conceded that this bill is being passed now so it will more easily pass in 2009. What if the bill was shelved for now (considering it has NO CHANCE of passage in the Senate) and the kind of lobbying that has taken place in the past two weeks is done over the next two years? What is lost under that scenario? Who loses? Are there ANY gays or lesbians who won't be protected from workplace discrimination during that time? Transgender people have come a long way in the past two years. Our place in the media and in other places of prominence have grown substantially in that time, and that was before the suddenness of this bill forced many gay and lesbian organizations to ratchet up the the transgender advocacy.

When I finally saw Dorothy make it to finally see the Wizard, I for felt for her. I felt let down when the Wizard turned out to be a rather stubborn and single minded man that tried to hid behind a curtain. I'm disappointed in Frank now in much of the same way.

How did we get to the point, we certainly weren't there a year ago, where an announcement by a Speaker who has spent so much of her life fighting against prejudice, her announcement that she will bring to the floor a bill in which we will get a majority in the United States House of Representatives which would ban in the entire country discrimination based on sexual orientation, how did that get transmogrified in the minds of I believe only a few people, but a few very vigorous people? How did that become a bad thing?

Barney Frank exclaims as he floats off heading for Kansas in his hot air balloon....

It became a bad thing when transgender people were used as bargaining chips for passage of a bill that has no chance of passage this year. It became a bad thing when Frank scapegoats the transgender community for not lobbying Congress, when we've not been allowed access to our Representatives. It became a bad thing when Frank demonized and trivialized the GLBT advocacy community to force a vote on this bill. It became a bad thing when you set up the following false dichotomy:

So we have two choices today: we can say until we are able to do everything, we are going to abandon this effort.

Did we abandon hate crimes legislation when it had no chance of passage? No. Setting this up as a choice between inclusion for some or exclusion for all is a willing suspension of disbelief. I hope (click, click, click) our community will stay unified in the face of Barney Frank's scare mongering.

There's no place like home... There's no place like home... There's no place like home....


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Frank is not the wizard of Oz he is one of the flying monkeys.

What is even scarier is as this joke on the GLBT drags on you and I are more and more in agreement.
Now that is scary.

One has to ask....
How would an ENDA passed the way Frank wants it to be passed going to keep someone like that woman in New your who was thrown out of the bathroom and the club for her gender expression from loosing her job for the very same reason?

we know it won't.

The only people the Frank-ENDA will protect are those who are straight acting and gender conformists.

Oh well
a few more years of war in the middle east and we won't have a country to discuss civil rights in.

Take care
Sue Robins

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | October 10, 2007 12:16 PM

When I read the words of this gay man who is supposed to be a leader--words of a cowardly, fear-mongering, divisive and ill-informed (or deliberately dishonest) so-called ally--I am so glad I no longer live in the US.

With friends like this, truly, who needs enemies?

By way of comparison, a person in Ireland cannot be fired (except by religious organizations--they seem to always receive the "Get Out of Jail Free" card) for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Companies know this, too, and the workplace environment is so different for that reason. That's not to say that conservative companies (and individuals) love teh gay or tranny, nor do they understand us or the distinctions between LGB and T.

What's important, though, is that they KNOW that Ireland has a very proactive Equality Authority which will be all over them immediately if there is a case of discrimination in employment--or the delivery of goods and services. And if they lose a discrimination case, it will cost them.

Not only that, the Equality Authority has been working closely with my organization, the Transgender Equality Network Ireland, to designate 2007 a Year of Equal Opportunities for All, with trannies singled out for special mention. They even gave us an EU-funded grant for 10,000 Euro to fund an educational outreach project for general practitioners in Ireland.

Compare that to the country of my birth, which can't even in 30 years! pass legislation outlawing discrimination against LGBT folk and whose leaders are now proposing to throw trannies under the bus for a law with no chance of passing anyway.

What is the matter with the Democratic Party and America in general?!

Isn't it interesting that the same man who complains that we haven't done enough educating and lobbying and tells us we need to do more of both is also going to the floor and trying to convince his peers not to listen to our educating and lobbying efforts?

"Isn't it interesting that the same man who complains that we haven't done enough educating and lobbying and tells us we need to do more of both is also going to the floor and trying to convince his peers not to listen to our educating and lobbying efforts?"

Interesting? That's not the right word.

I suggest: "Everything That's Seven Years Old is New Again: Conservaqueers Not Been Vedy, Vedy Good to Us" (available at: http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3250 )

Your best and most sensible paragraph. I completely agree with you on this part:

A couple of weeks? Frank has already conceded that this bill is being passed now so it will more easily pass in 2009. What if the bill was shelved for now (considering it has NO CHANCE of passage in the Senate) and the kind of lobbying that has taken place in the past two weeks is done over the next two years? What is lost under that scenario? Who loses? Are there ANY gays or lesbians who won't be protected from workplace discrimination during that time? Transgender people have come a long way in the past two years. Our place in the media and in other places of prominence have grown substantially in that time, and that was before the suddenness of this bill forced many gay and lesbian organizations to ratchet up the the transgender advocacy.