The word is out on the street in DC that ENDA is dead, according to Lou Chibbaro, the famed veteran gay reporter at the DC Agenda. The story quotes four anonymous sources from "mainline" LGBT political advocacy groups who say that there are not enough votes in the Senate.
Duh. That was obvious from Day 1. You don't need anonymous sources to say something as obvious as that. We also knew that if the House let ENDA languish into 2010 that the battle was going to be more uphill.
What these sources are really saying, if you read between the lines, is that the DC powers-that-be are abandoning ENDA. Only a few more votes are needed in the Senate. The people who want to kill a bill always lay the blame on the Senate. But it is true that getting those 5 votes would require some serious work by Senator Harry Reid and, gasp, the President. I thought it telling that the President mentioned DADT but not ENDA in his State of the Union Address.
I have no doubt that if I contacted Senator Reid's office, his people would say that he fully supports ENDA and is 100% committed to its passage. It is also quite likely that the House will move forward with ENDA at some point, since there are enough votes in the House. But going through the motions is not the same thing as going hell-bent for leather to ensure passage, which is what would be needed. So it's not completely dead, but what they're saying, if true, is that it is on life-support and the brother-in-law wants to pull the plug.
But the meaning of this story depends on who these so-called anonymous sources are.
The thing we don't know is the motivation behind the statements of these LGBT "insiders."
They may simply be truth-tellers who wanted to unburden their hearts. They may be hoping to put ENDA in the coffin even though it is not really dead. They may be hoping for an easier challenge. Are they staunch DADT repealers, who want to bury ENDA so that DADT can move ahead? Are they transphobes who don't want to have to support trans rights? Perhaps they're hoping that this will help get the trans protections removed? Do they agree with Ann Rostow's elitist comment this week in the San Francisco Bay Times that ENDA is "as useful to 21st century gay rights as a Betamax player"? Are they anti-filibuster advocates, who hope to rile up the LGBT community against the filibuster?
We just don't know enough to determine what these anonymous sources hope to accomplish by spitting on ENDA.
Are they from HRC, NGLTF or NCTE? I'm guessing no, because all of those organizations commented in this story that ENDA is moving right ahead despite the difficulties. So what "mainline" organizations are they from? NCLR? Stonewall Dems? The Victory Fund? SLDN? Maybe it's a series of "moles" inside HRC, secretly copying documents at night with a special camera?
The transphobia idea is given weight by the following quote in the story:
"Opposition to the gender identity provision, included to help protect transgender people, is among the contributing factors that's prevented supporters from lining up the needed 60 votes to break a filibuster, one of the sources said."
Advocates have had to do a lot of educating of Congress about LGBT lives and issues to move the bill forward. The fact that opposition to LGBT people is a "contributing factor" to the difficulty in lining up votes is not a reason to throw in the towel. It's a reason to work harder, do more education, and get more powerful allies into the mix.
What the DC Agenda story on ENDA really means is that these anonymous sources have thrown in the towel, and they want the rest of us to say "uncle." They're basically saying that if the rest of us fools want to knock our heads against a brick wall, they won't stop us, but they're busy using their sledgehammer elsewhere. They don't want us kicking and screaming to work harder. They want us to accept their reality. But they don't want to be accountable for saying so.
If it's true -- because we don't know who these anonymous sources are.
But what I want to know is, if I'm going to keep knocking my head against the brick wall, where are the sledgehammers? Where's Harry Reid on this? Where is President Obama? No where, apparently, and busy pushing DADT ahead of ENDA.
If the powers-that-be let this story go unchallenged, that is a much worse sign than these four anonymous Horsemen (or women) of the Apocalypse. We shall see in the coming days if there is any sign of protest.