HRC announced on its Backstory blog late Friday afternoon that it had been officially informed by the House Committee on Labor and Education that ENDA will not be considered by the House this year.
I have been privileged to write about ENDA daily since its introduction in June. Thank you to all of those who have followed my posts and made those calls. We moved ENDA far up the field before the time out, with well over the votes needed in the House and missing only a few votes in the Senate.
I will now take a hiatus from my daily postings to address the personal and professional issues that have received short shrift during the past six months. I will continue to post occasionally about this and other issues, and I note that we need to continue our efforts to ensure that this bill isn't parked again.
The good news is that Gay Inc. awoke from its long sleep Friday morning and issued a strong statement urging swift passage of ENDA, along with the ACLU. There's also increased interest from bloggers and on LGBT news websites. My Google Alerts are humming.
I hear that our LGBT politicians are promising a quick markup and House vote next year. I pray that my concerns about Senate midterm elections and legislative logjams and lost momentum are misplaced. What should our strategy be to move forward to victory in 2010?
The first thing is to ensure that the House moves this forward as quickly as possible. Every day closer to those midterm elections is deadly for the Senate, where the real fight is, as some of the 9 potential yes votes are up for re-election.
The second item is putting high-level pressure on those 9 potential yes votes. Harry Reid and President Obama are going to need to do some serious horse trading. The 4 missing votes are not going to be without cost to the Democrats.
The third factor is going to be constituent support in those states with wavering Senators. It's not going to happen on its own. Many of the state organizations in those areas don't have sufficient resources to do it on their own. Some of the national organizations have resources like nifty phonebanking software that would allow people from other states to call Dems in the 9 states to ask them to call their Senator. But there are serious rifts between the national organizations and the state organizations, a lot of which comes down to money, and if those aren't repaired, then the effort to show constituent support is going to be minimal. Crowing about ten people getting together to phonebank one night, or sending some guy to Indiana to shake hands with local yokels is not going to cut it. Our advocacy organizations are going to have to stop doing the amateur hour thing, and start singing like opera stars.
The last important item is support from progressive allies. They've been sitting on the sidelines far too long, wringing their hands about healthcare and Afghanistan and jobs. Yes, those are important, and LGBT people, like everyone else, deserve good healthcare and jobs, and I oppose the war as well. I and many others in the LGBT community have been doing our part on those issues. But the idea that we can only do one thing at a time is ludicrous. This is a civil rights issue. It's not like we're asking for free ice cream for teh gays. I don't see it covered anywhere in the mainstream media. It's not been in the New York Times or Washington Post at all. Daily Kos, with the exception of a few diarists, hasn't mentioned the issue. I don't see it on Rachel Maddow or other political shows. That's going to have to start happening in 2010, though I don't know how to make that happen. But we do have big media types in our crowd - someone's got to start tapping them on the shoulder.
In the meantime, thank you again for listening to my long harangues. I hope that the holidays will provide a well-needed rest and opportunity for reflection on how to come together as a community of allies to get that touchdown.
I wish you all happy holidays.