Guest Blogger

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin on the passage of ENDA

Filed By Guest Blogger | November 07, 2007 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Congress, ENDA, LGBT civil rights, stereotypes, Tammy Baldwin, trans, transgender, workplace protections

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has given us the following guest post as her statement on the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Our thanks to the Congresswoman's office for sending this along. Representative Baldwin is the only openly lesbian member of Congress.

TammyBaldwin.jpgToday, the House took an historic vote on the Employment Non- Discrimination Act . . .a bill that expands the law of the land to prohibit job discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation. This is an historic moment in the on-going movement for equality in this country. As in all movements, achieving success is a process, and today’s legislative accomplishment marks a milestone, but certainly not the end, of our quest.

I offered an amendment to H.R. 3685 because I strongly believe that we must prohibit job discrimination against people because of their gender identity.

This is a complex issue. Few people are very familiar with it or understand how a person’s body might not match one’s internal sense of gender. But, there are Americans who confront this reality and therefore seek to live as the other gender in order to feel whole. This is not a new phenomenon... it is not a fad. And it certainly is not a reason to suffer discrimination in the workplace.

The importance of non-discrimination laws cannot be overstated. Substantively, they provide legal remedies and a chance to seek justice.

Symbolically, they say that, in America, we judge our fellow citizens by their integrity, character, and talents; not their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, age, or disability.

Some people have asked why I insisted on bringing an amendment to the floor, only to withdraw it without a vote. The reason is simple. Those left behind by this bill deserve to hear, on the floor of the House, that they are not forgotten and our job will not be finished until they, too, share fully in the American Dream.

Those who would practice employment discrimination, who permit bullying or ostracism on the job, who hire or fire based on stereotyped notions of what is masculine and what is feminine, rather than on a person’s skills and ability, need to hear, from the floor of the House, that such practices are not acceptable in our society.

Irrational hate or fear have no place in our society. If we truly believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, if we truly want to protect the most vulnerable in our society, if we continue to profess that all men are created equal, then we must work toward achieving the American Dream for all…not just for some.

So, I join with my colleagues in celebrating House passage of a bill that bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. This is important and necessary legislation. And I remain committed, as we all are, to passing legislation that bans workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity.


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Some people have asked why I insisted on bringing an amendment to the floor, only to withdraw it without a vote. The reason is simple. Those left behind by this bill deserve to hear, on the floor of the House, that they are not forgotten and our job will not be finished until they, too, share fully in the American Dream.

what integrity You can't even stand by your own beliefs. I hope you get voted out on your sorry butt. what a waste of blog space.

Sue , I feel you're being too hard on her. Here, I'll quote from The Hill of 2 weeks ago:

House Education and Labor panel Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), whose committee passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, said he told the freshman lawmakers at their Wednesday breakfast with Pelosi that the amendment did not have the votes to pass and would not be brought to the House floor.

The fix was in then, the decision had been made, regardless of how the numbers might change in the next 2 weeks. A commitment had been made by a panel Chairman. That kind of commitment doesn't get broken.

But why did Baldwin agree to that? It was only when I looked at the legal ramifications that I think I see why. Debate without a vote was the only way to keep existing TS rights. As was shown in Ettsity vs Utah Transit Authority (Original Ruling), the fact that Congress had considered rights legislation and voted against it was seen as proof that they definitely forbade those rights to be granted. The same could be said if congress had not had the question placed before it: if these rights were necessary, surely legislation would have been introduced. But to have it placed before Congress and not voted in puts it in a legal limbo. It's important enough to consider: but Congress's intent is not clear. Existing caselaw stands.

Basically, as the result of a T-less ENDA, several important T-friendly decisions would have been overturned, or at least put in question. That's regardless of ENDA being eventually vetoed or not. As it is, losses are cut to a minimum.

I don't have unalloyed faith in Rep Baldwin. But if an Australian Rocket Scientist can see this issue, one of her staffers surely can. It's also convenient for taking over Frank's mantle, now he's on the nose. She keeps in Pelosi's good graces.

Thanks Zoe,
i see what you are saying.
I still see principals as something that cannot be compromised.

The truth is All of this including ALL civil rights laws that involve employment are toothless because of an employers right to hire and fire whom they want. This is the At Will doctrine that is in place now. ENDA is only a toothless tiger.

given that why not stand for principals since there are no rights that secure employment for anybody in any of the protected classes?

Tis is all for show.


Take care
Susan Robins

[taking off the queer hat and putting on the Union hat now]

Actually Sue, the only legal protections at all for at-will (non-union) employees that are related to hiring, firing, promotions, etc are, in fact, nondiscrimination, whistleblower, and other protected class type laws...

Unless you're trying to make the point that if someone's at-will their boss can make up a stupid excuse as a front in order to get arount the law. In that case, I'd agree with you wholeheartedly.

Those pesky discrimination cases... so many incidents, so few that are able to be proven...

The point i am making should be obvious.
you have to prove discrimination took place.
we live in a country where the accused is innocent until proven guilty. An at will employer can simply walk in one day and say "it's been nice having you work for us but we have to let you go", and you are done. it doesn't matter how old you are or if you are handicapped black, green, orange man or woman or in between..

There is only one state in the union that requires an employer to give a written reason for terminating a person. I know you are aware of this. Union situations are different,

the ultimate fix for the problem is to require employers to give a reason in writing and go before a review board and give the employee due process. Until at will employment is dealt with every non discrimination law is simply a band-aid.

Take care
Susan Robins

PS...

I have been though the job discrimination route, no it was not during my transition or pre-transition history. i worked for a SanDiego based defense contraster in their industrial products division. someone got a burr up their backside and decided i was endangering myself working on low voltage electronic equipment. To make a long story short they were so stupid they gave me written notice as to why they were letting me go. Me being partially sighted this made a difference in the state of California. To make a long story short i got my job back and they promptly transferred to me another position i was not trained for. I went back to the state agency and found out there wasn't much i could do about it and then found out about at will employment.
Life sometimes sucks doesn't it.
I found another job and life went on this time i had already started living full time and for the rest of my career 14 years i had no problems with ether of the employers i had.

Again take care
Sue Robins

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | November 7, 2007 10:52 PM

Seven people managed to vote against it because of the lack of gender identity. Baldwin was not among them.

She's saying 'do as I say, not as I do' -- which usually fools nobody. But LGBT people, being so needy that they'll fall for abusers' lines time and again, are falling for this one in droves.

It's the votes that count. All the rest are just pretty words made meaningless when the action is antithetical to them.

But, as this will be a long fight, she'll have opportunities to redeem herself. I strongly suggest, though, that the primary authorship of any future House bill be entrusted only to those among the seven.

Thanks for your efforts, but leaving any of us behind hurts all of us--the whole country. And the expanded religious exemptions hurt us too. I'm very disappointed that your amendment (Which never should have been separate) was removed.

Bush said he would veto this, so this was the time for stong standing on principle and not caving in to the GOP simply because they want to use the "drag queen" fear card to raise money and votes. They do that anyway, no matter what.

The day that all Congresspeople stop acting solely in response to the GOP's threats and bullying is the day we'll have real representative government--and a better country. Try it.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | November 8, 2007 2:42 AM

I am aware that she was anything but in charge here -- in fact, it appears from the reports I've read and from conversations with people who had opportunity for direct observation at critical times, that she and her key staff were just plain cut out of the loop by the Pelosi/Frank/HRC cabal.

She had really only one thing she could truly control -- her own vote -- and I'm left wondering if she had to trade that for the opportunity to put the amendment symbolically on the floor at all -- even for the paltry ten minutes they gave it.

I have no doubt she had to make tough calls and that her heart was in the right place, whether or not I agree with the choices she made.

Well I for one and im Trans will no longer trust anybody who claims there fighting for my rights when they seem to cave this easy?So its back into the shadows for us it seems after all every one needs somebody to bash and hate on.But seriously lets hope we can get a real bill when this is tried again for after all this bill will be vetoed and probaly not over ridden.

Love ya
Cathy

Well she came across as being our Friend but we shall see im learly now of all or so called friends.

Cathy

My hat is off to the Congresswoman for standing up for trans folks in Congress when everyone else was willing to toss them under the bus. She has the courage of her convictions and has never stooped to Barney Frank's idiotic ravings about penises in the shower.

As for voting in favor of ENDA, she's the only lesbian member of Congress. The message her vote would have sent about ENDA to all members of Congress (especially the right wing) would have been devastating if she'd voted against it. She did what she had to do - and she did it well.

I appreciate and support Congresswoman Baldwin- she did a lot more than anyone else.

It's not about penises in the shower and Baldwin, Frank and Pelosi all need to wrap themselves in a new language- it's about gender identity, which includes butch women and effeminate men.

It is a devastating loss. In 1987, Massachusetts passed a gay and lesbian civil rights bill. Twenty years later, we still have no gender identity protections. The only state in the country with legally recognized gay marriage and no protections for gender expression.

It's personal- I'm not a petite blond in a bikini. I get called sir on a daily basis. I have had a job where I was asked to wear a skirt for client meetings and refused another where women were not allowed to wear pants (small start up software company in the 90s.

It's personal because one of my kids struggles with gender identity. I watch his pain and know there is a very real chance he is transgender. Threaten my children's rights and I am no longer sane... throw him under the bus and I'll go out and pick that damn bus up and throw it off the road.

And it's personal because it is a statement about my community. What we are willing to do, and how we are willing to walk in the world.

Congresswoman Baldwin was between a rock and a hard place. I support her because I am unwilling to throw anyone under the bus.

Now we have to move forward.

Seven people managed to vote against it because of the lack of gender identity. Baldwin was not among them.

She's saying 'do as I say, not as I do' -- which usually fools nobody. But LGBT people, being so needy that they'll fall for abusers' lines time and again, are falling for this one in droves.

It's the votes that count. All the rest are just pretty words made meaningless when the action is antithetical to them.

So this is the kind of support transfolk deserve?
Lip service. Pardon me for saying so but i have had better lip service from a drunken sailor. At least then i knew the screwing was soon to follow.


Bill your going to find some way to spin this to make leaving gender identity behind look like it was necessary. It was NOT! Typical Gay politics "we are in it for ourselves screw everybody else"


So many shallow people in the world without the stones to back up the hot air that comes from their open mouth.


Susan Robins


As for voting in favor of ENDA, she's the only lesbian member of Congress. The message her vote would have sent about ENDA to all members of Congress (especially the right wing) would have been devastating if she'd voted against it. She did what she had to do - and she did it well.

While I admire Baldwin and her colleagues who supported her/us as well as the work done by the Task Force
part of me disagrees with Bil-- tho' I certainly see your point.

This is a complex issue. Few people are very familiar with it or understand how a person’s body might not match one’s internal sense of gender. But, there are Americans who confront this reality and therefore seek to live as the other gender in order to feel whole. This is not a new phenomenon... it is not a fad. And it certainly is not a reason to suffer discrimination in the workplace.

If this is how the Congresswoman truly feels then a vote against might have sent the message that we are unwilling to compromise or sell out members of our own community.

As Baldwin says it is very complex. Time to lick our wounds, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.

I was a cross dresser long before I became full fledged trans and I have seen to many folks in the GLB wish we in the T would just fade away so a lot of this we cant include you now stuff realy didnt surprise me to much.

Love ya
Cathy


I was a cross dresser long before I became full fledged trans and I have seen to many folks in the GLB wish we in the T would just fade away so a lot of this we cant include you now stuff realy didnt surprise me to much.

Love ya
Cathy

We did better without the Gays and Lesbians, since i came out and started living full time back in 1980 i have seen transfolk make progress on their own in California and it seems when the Gays decided they wanted to "support Us"? we have made little or no foward progress.

I am beginning the stigma of being assoiated with G/L folks is worse then any srigma we as trans folk ever had to endure.

This so called political alliance is a bunch of BS. They just want to Uses Screw us and toss us aside.

i won't turn my back on my Gay and Lesbian friends however there will be no more political support of Gay and Lesbian issues.

They don't impact me anyway.
I don't see why i ever bothered.

A very Unhappy
Susan Robins

Rep. Baldwin, I tried to email you from your House website, but couldn't because I'm not from your district. I wanted to thank you for standing up for me, and for all transgendered Americans, with your amendment, as well as for your words here. You've given me great hope for our future and deepened my pride in our country.