Marla R. Stevens

Barney's SPLENDA Legacy: Skinny & Not-So-Sweet

Filed By Marla R. Stevens | November 05, 2007 11:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Barney Frank, ENDA, HRC, Pelosi, SPLENDA, Tammy Baldwin

The revisionists are in full throat on ENDA -- John Aravosis loudly among them, claiming again, as if repeating a lie makes it truth, that supporters of gender-identity inclusion in ENDA have termed it easy -- "a cakewalk" -- as if it ever was, much less that it would be when separated into an 'amend back in' footing in an unnecessarily hot climate.

Let me say it so even the intentionally deaf may hear: Nobody in a leadership position in this battle claimed it would be "a cakewalk" -- just that it requires the kind of commitment that Rep. Frank sadly lacks (his being limited, by his own admission on this blog, to mere "trying" of the sort my mother would have insisted I label "a half-hearted guarantee of failure") - that and the obvious that isolating the tough parts is a sure loss guarantee, too.

What was and remains obvious, is that, when the Democratic leadership, Frank and Pelosi on point this time, gives blatant permission for the nervous among their ranks to rebel rather than providing them with supportive facts and a leaderly example of how to successfully weather controversy, the nervous will jump at the chance.

It is not a bad thing, though, that the ignorance and bigotry surrounding gender identity has been brought to light. It's a discouraging thing but the reality of it is better in the open than it continuing to lie in wait in secret only to derail our best efforts once again. We have to fight this fight - with an eye less to the punitive and more in the direction of "Light, more light!", remembering that the most pain-dealing of our foes are our family - a family that desperately needs growth-centered healing simultaneous to a firm, motherly hand.

Whether getting a record vote on gender identity is advisable or if it would instead make the road even worse is not clear to me. I can see pros and potential perils in both options. I'm not going to hold Rep. Baldwin at fault however she decides.

But I will hold at fault anyone who votes for the Frank abomination and I will not forget. Granted, it's a nuanced holding with both mitigation and enhancements for the earning.

One thing's for certain, I will never forget the arrogant high-handedness of Barney Frank and the sneaky duplicitous complicity of HRC. Barney may be right when he taunts, "Who are they going to get to run against me, Larry Craig?" But it won't make him any less of a legislative anachronism on this issue, either. There are worse things than losing one's seat.

He's always been cranky and intolerant and given to 'I'm smarter than the lot of you put together' fits of pique and paternalism. They were always balanced by a quick witted gift of gab, a brilliant intellect, superior knowledge of his craft, and moxie in service of good causes.

We've always bowed to him and overlooked the affronts -- and there have been some doozies along the way -- but lately, we've been gaining hard-won expertise enough to not lie down when he wants to ride roughshod over us and he's reacted very badly to it, playing pretty extreme hardball with people he ought not to be.

He's of an age now when he should be looking at things with an eye to his legacy. Crotchety anachronism - the political equivalent of the old bar troll -- who constantly needs his ego stroked doesn't seem like one worthy of his pursuit.


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What was and remains obvious, is that, when the Democratic leadership, Frank and Pelosi on point this time, gives blatant permission for the nervous among their ranks to rebel rather than providing them with supportive facts and a leaderly example of how to successfully weather controversy, the nervous will jump at the chance.

That would mean expecting some sort of leadership from this Congress, which we haven't seen yet.

bill perdue | November 6, 2007 9:40 AM

There’s no point in denying it at this point, we’ve been stabbed in the back by Democrats Frank and Pelosi. And now, while the Congressional Democrats are twisting the knife, their shills and apologists are scuttling out of the way, afraid they’ll be caught in the backlash of this outrageous betrayal. They’ve all but stopped shouting that it’s a ‘transjacking’ and using gaybashing terms like ‘mad tranny disease’. As soon as they stopped gloating they began a mad dash to cover their asses. It won’t work; nobody makes steel plated diapers.

The replacement of the real ENDA by the counterfeit, toothless Democratic version was a shocking and revealing wake up call for tens of thousands who assumed the Democrats were their friends.

Without notice, debate or dialogue Frank and Pelosi unilaterally stripped some of the most important provisions of the real ENDA. Their deceit was matched by the antidemocratic arrogance of their refusal to consult, listen or discuss it with the movement. They understood from the first that their bogus ENDA would ignite a firestorm of opposition and decided to ignore GLBT opinion on the question.

To our credit the overwhelming majority of GLBT activists, leaders and thinkers repudiated the Democrats and their quisling shills. The Democrats watched slack jawed as the opposition to their betrayal provoked a massive and determined rejection.

The days when they could take us for granted are over. We’re in the same boat as tens of millions of working people, antiwar activists, environmentalists, and minorities. We have to build an independent voice to express the political will of the GLBT communities.
That summarizes the politics of the debate, but it has another side, a human dimension that should inform and guide our debate, even if the Democrats and their hacks ’ try to conceal and ignore it.

Gwyn Abrujo was murdered, as are many others every year, because she was transgendered. TransActive Education & Advocacy, a group supporting youth of all genders in Portland, Oregon reported two days ago that “Ian, a 16-year old transgender boy committed suicide yesterday. As sad as the death of any child can be at any time, in any way, the loss of this child, in this way at this time is particularly painful for many of us.”

Ian saw that Frank, Pelosi and their apologists getting ready to throw him under the bus.

The crime of the Democrats is their attempt to write off the lives of transsexuals, to trade them for party loyalty. For thirty pieces of silver they’re making it easier for the bosses who make a mint underpaying us. That’s despicable.

The crime of their apologists is their sudden fondness for the acronym GLB and their use of hate language like “mad tranny disease”. Those people are writing themselves out of the movement. Good Riddance!

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | November 6, 2007 1:57 PM

There's a legislative truism that today's foe is tomorrow's ally, so I'm not joining the "Good Riddance!" sentiment, however much I'd like to.

But that doesn't mean I'll ever forget and that what I remember won't color my actions and expectations long into the future.

I won't spend much energy butting my head against the brick walls among us but I do think it valuable to spend lots of it educating and subsequently healing what rifts can be healed. We're too small a community who need each other's support whenever we can get it not to. In some cases, the journey to enlightened commitment to gender-identity inclusion is not a terribly long one and the effort it will take to help people make it well worth the trouble.

But my first energy in this fight will be to organize well those who are not stuck in a faux-GLB-only state of selfishness or fear, seeking the legislative solution that will help make us all safer, that of a comprehensive, gender-inclusive, amendatory federal civil rights bill.

In other words, even a gender-inclusive ENDA is not good enough for a people who suffer significant -- and sometimes even greater -- discrimination in the areas of housing, public accommodation, and credit than we do in employment. We're going to have to start pretty much from square one after being screwed by Barney, Pelosi, and the HRC. Why not do it right again after over a decade of wasted effort following the HRC's lead down a rabbit hole to nowhere?!?