Alex Blaze

Can you feel the ENDAmentum?

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 31, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Barney Frank, bisexual, Diego Sanchez, ENDA, HRC, lesbian, LGBT, Senate, transgender

The AP's optimistic about ENDA. Considering the fact that 90% of Americans support job protections for LGB people and 65% of Americans support such protections for trans people, we shouldn't have to be waiting for the stars to align when we already have a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president who says he supports the bill. But that's the new reality, where anyone to the left of GWB is a crazed dirty fucking hippie, and everything can be put at risk by the a hecklers' veto from a minority of the country that will never go along with anything.

Anyway, they cite several conditions as being better than in 2007, including the shifts in the House, Senate, and White House (thank you, voters). But they also spend a few paragraphs discussing the game change Barney Frank's hiring of Diego Sanchez caused.

I've gotta say, I, like Becky Juro, found Barney Frank's position on splitting the ENDA to be less morally objectionable than HRC's position on the same. Most of the reasons for not splitting it had to do with either trying to alleviate the real discrimination that occurs against trans people on the ground or how we define ourselves as an LGBT movement, both of which are an advocacy group's concerns. But a politician? Pol's aren't our friends - they have to think about looking like they're getting something done and public opinion before they worry about doing the right thing. It's the system we have.

Diego Sanchez is brilliant and I'm sure is doing a wonderful job, and hiring an openly transgender political advisor (most of the sites discussing this article call him the "first" transgender staffer on the Hill, but, come on, we all know there were others before who didn't want to have to deal with that attention) is really one of the best things Frank could have done for an inclusive ENDA. Here's the AP's take:

There is another difference from 2007. Frank now has a policy adviser who is a female-to-male transsexual. Diego Sanchez is the first transgender person hired for a senior congressional staff position on Capitol Hill.

Sanchez has done extensive face-to-face lobbying for ENDA, and Frank says that's enabled some members of Congress to get to know a transsexual for the first time.

"He interacts with a lot of people," Frank said. "Prejudice is literally ignorance."

Frank says he now doubts votes will be cast against ENDA solely because it extends to transgender people.

Sanchez is a longtime activist who worked for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention last year before joining Frank's staff. Back in 2007, he was among a minority of transgender activists who accepted Frank's tactical decision to drop gender identity from that version of ENDA.

"He's called on the entire community since then to lobby, work -- and the community has said, 'OK, we've got one game plan, and it's Barney,'" Sanchez said. "There's broader support this time."

I can imagine that there are plenty of people in the House and Senate who have never met anyone they knew was trans, and there are good people there willing to change their opinion if they simply educated on the topic.

So have you been paying attention to Prof. Weiss's posts on who to contact in Congress? We can't expect Obama to do this for us, but we can get it done. If we can't, I don't have much hope for other LGBT legislation in Obama's first term.


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Here we go again lets get it done pass a LGB bill and then dont ask those of us in the T for help on anything again.Oh and theres probaly more MTF than FTM folks but why didnt Barney hire one of us to?

Politics is a contact sport with no rules
Cathy

theres probaly more MTF than FTM folks but why didnt Barney hire one of us
The same reason a certain self-perpetuating corporatist autocracy on Rhode Island Avenue didn't do so until last year.

Did you miss the whole point that there's a transman working on this currently? That outreach has specifically been done this time to Congress members about trans issues. Yet, you say it'll be an LGB bill "again" when the entire point of the article was that it wouldn't be.

And, correct me if I'm wrong, but in other threads you've demanded that you're not trans any longer and don't want to be misconstrued as being "one of them."

This comment just seems nonsensical to me.

I smell bus fumes.

Hi there Bil oh im very much Trans even if im more CD than preop.Yes we all say stuff when were pissed off in blogs an forums but come on now Bil to toss that back at me is pure BS and just shows how petty even you can be. I know Barney has a TransMan but no MTF women working with him as far as I know and there is supossedly outreach but you know what if it comes down to it you know as well as I do that the T folks will be tossed in a flash that is just the way it will be and always will be.Specialy if you can get it and win big in the senate and the house with out us in the final bill.So if your serious and not giving us lip service make sure Barney keeps his word and and not toss us like he did last time.Oh and I know the drill in congress if you aint form my district dont waste my time talking to me.

Politics is a contact sport with no rules
Cathy

Diego Sanchez was far from the first.....by at least a decade and a half.

There even was a post corrected woman who was on Bush's staff.

I have a question - if the Exclusive ENDA had passed the senate as well as the house last year, as it looked at one time that it might. And if it hadn't been vetoed, as well it might not have... there being more trans people on Bush's staff than Obama's...

Then what do you think the odds would be of getting rights for Trans people this year? Given that the NH senate, on the same day that they voted for Gay marriage, voted unanimously against extending the rights gays have had for 10 years to Trans people too?

The worst thing about the ENDA betrayal - and there's no other word for it, I'm afraid - was that it put Trans people in a terrible bind. To support basic human rights for gays meant losing any chance of getting them themselves for decades. But to not support them was not just morally bankrupt, but could have delayed the issue for several years, not just months as it turned out.

I supported the exclusive ENDA, even knowing what the consequences would be. Because sometimes you have to do what's right, not what's pragmatic. Pragmatism in the short run is always a disaster in the long run, as you forfeit the moral high ground which is our greatest asset.