Marti Abernathey

We'll Come Back, Really....

Filed By Marti Abernathey | July 15, 2008 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: active legislation, Barney Frank, ENDA, GENDA, Massachusetts, New York, SONDA

When explaining why Congress will have a hard time passing a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Congressman Barney Frank loves to point out that:

In fact, many States in this country still have laws that protect only against sexual orientation, including New York State, which passed it a few years ago with the strong support of many of the people who now tell us that Congress dare not do what New York did. How people think we are going to get more votes, we are going to get more votes for a better bill in America than they got only in New York, I don't understand, if they really think that the United States is a more favorable theater for these kinds of rights than New York.

One of the main contentions of the "incremental" theorists is that "we'll come back for you after we get our protections." Barney Frank and the Human Rights Campaign are two of the largest backers of this strategy. Many people in the gender variant community are suspicious of this approach, fearing that they'll be ignored and forgotten.

It would seem that in Barney Frank's home state of Massachusetts, those suspicions have legs. In June of this year Mass Equality's political director, Matt McTighe, was asked what he thought about widening Mass Equality's mission. He said:

We feel like it would be unfair to raise the bar [this year] and say, thank you for your vote last year, but where do you stand on the transgender bill or MassHealth Equality. ... After November it's quite possible we will reassess and broaden our criteria.

With this in mind, it was a shock to read that:

Legislation to repeal the law will be taken up at the State House next week. House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi (D) and Senate President Therese Murray (D) both support the repeal effort. If the bill passes Gov. Deval Patrick (D) has said he will sign it.

Republicans are expected to oppose the bill, along with a number of Democrats. Opposition to repealing the old law is strong and the vote is expected to be close.

While the Massachusetts legislators are willing to take up a contentious issue of gay marriage again, they're not willing at all to take up basic civil rights for gender variant people?

This kind of issue is why so many of us don't believe in the incrementalist approach to GLBT issues. New York still doesn't have gender identity in their statewide anti-discrimination bill (SONDA), and the bill that is in the the Massachusetts legislature (HB1722) is stuck in committee. When will they come back for us? Are protecting our rights to live free from discrimination less important than the right of out of state gay and lesbian couples to marry in Massachusetts? The answer seems obvious.

Cross posted from Transadvocate.com.


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Marti,
I'm tired of incrementalists selectively reading African-American history and using selective spin to justify 'incremental progress'


BTW, congratulations on being selected as a delate to the Dem convention for Indiana! ;)

I dunno, but MassEquality definitely could "raise the bar" if it wanted to. I thought that was the point of being a living advocacy group - to keep on pushing politicians until problems are solved.

Then again, when it came to marriage the problem for that movement was never taxes or parenthood or anything else, the problem was always that gays couldn't get married and the only solution was letting gays get married. Shows how shallow some of that stuff is.

While the Massachusetts legislators are willing to take up a contentious issue of gay marriage again, they're not willing at all to take up basic civil rights for gender variant people?

This kind of issue is why so many of us don't believe in the incrementalist approach to GLBT issues.

Amen to that, sister. That act is about as tired as a drag queen doing Liza. Over it!

As much as I wish it were otherwise, Marti, the truth we all know is that this is hardly news. In fact, the big problem most of us have with it, as you noted, is that this is SOP for the Congressional Democratic leadership just as much as it ever was when the GOP was running things: Pandering to the big-money special interests like HRC and Big Business and doing it at the expense of the poor and disenfranchised.

I'd like to believe things are changing in Washington in that regard, but after all the disappointments and last-minute fuckovers we've been the victim of from these people, I'll believe it when I see my civil rights protected at the federal level and not one split second before.

I'm just glad the Coast Guard doesn't operate on the principle of if we can't save everyone on the first trip out, we won't save anyone. If we can get ENDA passed in it's original, sexual orientation-only version now or virtually now, then we do it. Politics is the art of getting what you can get when you can get it. The quicker we realize this and stop waiting for the perfect, then we will see some actual accomplishment.

I am a supporter of trans-inclusion, but there is a political reality to be dealt with here:
Massachusetts already has same sex marriage and the repeal of the anti-miscegenation law has little effect within Massachusetts.

It was safe to do, politically.
Mind you, it does not make it right to do before dealing with discrimination within Massachusetts.

Sometimes they might come back (I believe there's a couple of states where it did happen). Didn't happen in Canada, though. We won same-sex marriage, and then the GLB activists all went home. There's nothing now but a big hollow sound of wind and a tumbleweed or two.

"As much as I wish it were otherwise, Marti, the truth we all know is that this is hardly news."

Yah - WE know it. But I suspect there are plenty of folks out there (T as well as GLB) who think we're simply Chicken Littles when we talk about this and don't actually have any facts to back it up.

Unfortunately, there's no pretty way to talk about what we know to be the reality of the lie of 'incremental progress.' It pits us against people who either should be our allies or actually are in most instances.

The lie of 'incremental progress' kills us. We MUST point out the workings of the lie at every opportunity.

What kills me about Frank's analogy is that when people say "New York" they mean NYC - that hotbed of liberalism (despite umpteen years of Republican mayors, ahem). But upstate New York is an entirely different animal - conservative, not uber-liberal, more rural.

So it's disingenuous of him to say "New York" especially when he knows people are thinking "hotbed of liberalism" when the state, as a whole, is not that at all.

I don't believe a word of the crepe spewed by those who say "America's not ready for trans rights." Got news for you, I have never heard a straight person say that "we can handle gay and lesbian, but not trans." It's all the same to straights, particularly straight enemies - GLBT are inexorably bonded in their eyes as "those freaks."

Most importantly, if you thought you saw a noisy meltdown over transgender exclusion in 2007, when everyone knew Dick Cheney wasn't going to unsheath Bush's autopen anyway, wait until you see and hear what happens if transgender exclusion happens in 2009, when presumably Obama would sign ENDA. It will make 2007 look like a tea party. Frankly, the T community isn't going to take no for an answer in 2009, and many of us will do our level best to scuttle a noninclusive ENDA. Let us all hope that does not become necessary, because we'd rather be loyal friends and allies. However, I expect that Frank and Joe Solmonese will, once again, pit us against each other. Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Lou Shelton, and Harry Jackson will be the only winners of that.

I don't believe a word of the crepe spewed by those who say "America's not ready for trans rights." Got news for you, I have never heard a straight person say that "we can handle gay and lesbian, but not trans." It's all the same to straights, particularly straight enemies - GLBT are inexorably bonded in their eyes as "those freaks."

Most importantly, if you thought you saw a noisy meltdown over transgender exclusion in 2007, when everyone knew Dick Cheney wasn't going to unsheath Bush's autopen anyway, wait until you see and hear what happens if transgender exclusion happens in 2009, when presumably Obama would sign ENDA. It will make 2007 look like a tea party. Frankly, the T community isn't going to take no for an answer in 2009, and many of us will do our level best to scuttle a noninclusive ENDA. Let us all hope that does not become necessary, because we'd rather be loyal friends and allies. However, I expect that Frank and Joe Solmonese will, once again, pit us against each other. Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Lou Shelton, and Harry Jackson will be the only winners of that.

We won same-sex marriage, and then the GLB activists all went home. There's nothing now but a big hollow sound of wind and a tumbleweed or two.

That's my worry too, Mercedes.

But I have to say in answer to Polar that I've heard plenty of people say "Okay to the gays and lesbians, but whoa on those trans folk." When we were fighting for an inclusive HRO here in Indianapolis, I was offered the votes to pass LGB protections if I'd just kill the trans part. Done deal - would have passed the next council meeting. Instead, we fought tooth and nail to include trans folk (even so far as having round table dinners with the two co-sponsors and some recalcitrant councilors.) The worst part was that only 2 Republicans voted for the HRO and both were okay with trans. The other balking members were all Democrats.

ksu499,
You seem to have your Coast Guard analogy a bit backwards. If you want to throw "saving lives" into the mix, then you need to be aware that transgender people are at a higher percentage of risk of losing their jobs then gays and lesbians, since most can hide their sexual orientation. And, gays and lesbians can find works elsewhere, since most can hide their sexual orientation. So, there has been less in the LGBT news of gays and lesbians committing suicide because they cannot find employment.

Based on that, then you should be pushing for a transgender-only ENDA first to save our lives because we are at a far greater risk, and then maybe we'll come back for gays and lesbians later, after we get all of our rights. Doesn't seem so fair when the shoe is on the other foot, does it?