The Employment Non-Discrimination, one of the only LGBT protections likely to be put in place this legislative session, is haunted by a giant shadow of the sordid past.
That shadow is the effort by our "leaders" to pass ENDA in 2007 by stripping out gender identity provisions that would protect members of our clan who are not gender-conforming, whether they be transgender persons or gay men or lesbians or even straight people.
Over 400 LGBT organizations rose up to state that they would never support a "workplace fairness" bill that intentionally leaves out part of our community, and some progressives in Congress voted against the anti-trans bill.
It's starting again. In Miami, of all places, by one of our would-be allies. In all fairness, the message came through an aide, and he represents a "difficult" area, so it likely reflects a lack of awareness than any active hostility.
Still, though...Now is the time to nip this in the bud.
Fortunately, Rep. Frank has publicly stated that "we are beyond that" sort of thing, and so, thankfully, we do not have to be (overly) concerned about that actually happening. We are within 5% of the votes needed in both houses of Congress to pass ENDA, and no one has, as yet, had the bad taste to raise the giant shadow of the sordid past.
That is, until yesterday, when Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart's office told a constituent that he will support ENDA -- as he did in 2007 -- and even co-sponsor the bill -- but questioned the need for gender identity provisions.
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, of Florida's 21st Congressional District, represents Miami and its northeastern suburbs. He is good on many issues. But not, apparently, up to snuff on this one. His brother, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents Florida's 25th Congressional District, has not yet revealed his position on HR 3017.
We need to educate our would-be allies about what it means to be LGBT in the 21st century. We are done accommodating to the needs of straights to be acceptable. We are past the time when women have to conform to gender expectations of skirts and heels and lipstick in order to be "acceptable" lesbians. We are through with the idea that gay men have to be tough-talking machos in order to avoid being subjected to taunts, discrimination and violence. We are not okay with the idea that transgender people have to live in a nether-world of discrimination, unemployment, prostitution and violence.
If you let them -- our would-be allies, with the best of intentions -- could, without understanding what they do, dictate the terms of our lives, and put you in a box so tight you will be less yourself than ever. That is not victory. That is not what we have been promised. This is not what we are fighting for.
This is not about transgender people. This is about who gets to determine what it means to be a member of our community, and who gets to determine what is acceptable.
Please call Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart and help educate him about the importance of an inclusive ENDA. Be nice. It won't help to be nasty. But tell him to support HR 3017. Tell him that workplace fairness includes all of us, not just some. Explain to him that our movement is about freedom to be ourselves, not to be put in a slightly larger box. Tell him to learn about what it means to support the LGBT community.
Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-21) 305-470-8555 Click here for Email
Please call now.