The Washington Blade is reporting that a spokesperson for Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy has said that he will push for passage in the Senate of the crippled, non-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which passed the House last November.
Kennedy spokesperson Melissa Wagoner reportedly told the Blade in an email:
“Although Sen. Kennedy strongly supports protections against job discrimination for transgender workers, inaction won’t advance justice for anyone, and will just make it harder to pass any version of ENDA in 2009…We will most likely work to move the House-passed bill, rather than introducing a separate Senate bill…Because the same legislation must pass both the House and Senate, now that the House has acted, the only realistic way to get a bill to the president’s desk this Congress is to have the Senate pass the House bill.”
Wagoner also admitted that Democratic Senate leaders still don’t know if they will have enough Republican support for the bill during an election year to break a filibuster.
Well, given what we saw in the House, no one can honestly say they didn’t see this coming. Once again, we see Congressional Democrats place more importance on pandering to wealthy conformists and caving into conservative bigotry than on standing up for real American values and for protecting the poorest and most persecuted American minorities from unjust discrimination.
Interestingly, this time it seems this particular sellout of gender-variant Americans wasn’t done with the direct knowledge or participation of the Human Rights Campaign. According to an HRC internal memo leaked to Transadvocate.com webmistress and Bilerico Project contributor Marti Abernathey, HRC apparently did not expect ENDA to be voted on again by Congress until 2009, after a newly-elected President and Congress had already taken office.
While this might seem to be disastrous news on its face, such an assessment may be a bit hasty. Since it’s already a virtually foregone conclusion that President Bush will veto any version of ENDA which actually does make it to his desk, Kennedy’s intentions here are clearly nothing more than an essentially useless pandering exercise in an election year on the part of Senate Democratic leaders.
We already know this bill has virtually zero chance of becoming law this year, regardless of what happens in the Senate. That said, it would be useful to LGBT community activists to know exactly which Senators are willing to stand on principle and insist on real equality for all LGBT Americans, and which ones are willing to sell out the basic civil rights of the poorest and least politically potent Americans in order to potentially pander to gay and lesbian voters with an election upcoming, as their colleagues in the House leadership chose to.
Help us, Obi-Wan Obama, you’re our only hope…