Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Democrats Play Shell Game With Gay Rights

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | February 03, 2010 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Don't Ask Don't Tell, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, gay rights, LGBT rights

Why have I not seen anyone commenting on the obvious shell game that the Democrats are playing with LGBT rights?

Thumbnail image for monte.190.jpgShell game - you know, where they put a pea under one of three walnut shells, mix them up, and you have to figure out where the pea is. Sometimes it's three-card monte - pick the red card, it's easy, it's easy, give it a try, c'mon now. They do it on the streets of New York all the time to gull the witless tourists. Set up a couple of boxes and get a crowd. The idea of the game is that the operator makes it look easy when one of his shills is playing. But when you play, he does it fast, and you get so confused trying to follow the pea, or the red card, that you guess wrong and lose your 20 bucks. If you do guess right, a few muscular "associates" surround you and suggest that you better scram. I've seen it a million times on the streets of New York. I guess they know the game in DC too.

First come news stories from several sources, including Representative Barney Frank, implying that ENDA is dead because we don't have 60 votes in the Senate. These stories go essentially unchallenged. No one says boo.

Next comes the President announcing that he is going to work with the military "this year" to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. A million news outlets then crow about this development. Everyone cheers.

No one bothers to note that they don't have 60 votes for DADT repeal either.

At the end of the year, the President will announce "substantial progress" on repeal of DADT, but no actual repeal, and maybe a few other frills here and there.

We will have gotten nothing, and anyone who's dissatisfied will be surrounded by Democratic "associates" who will hustle them off the stage.

Come on, come on, who wants to play? Go for the easy money, c'mon now. Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal, only 20 bucks.

Rachel Maddow has spent a couple of nights since the President's nice speech discussing DADT. She's never discussed ENDA as far as I can tell, and hers is one of the few shows I listen to regularly.

In fact, she spent some time specifically rebutting the idea that 60 votes are needed. She points out that if and when the DADT repeal is attached to a defense bill, then the 60 vote rule works the other way -- 60 votes are needed to strip the amendment out.

How come no one has mentioned that in connection with ENDA to rebut these insidious news stories about how ENDA needs 60 votes?

It also turns out that President Obama's "this year" means some other year, because he is going to work with them "this year" and the repeal will come in some other year. You have to watch where the modifiers are placed with Presidents.

We have well over 50 votes for ENDA in the Senate - why aren't they talking about attaching it to a jobs bill and getting it through? I'm not sure - could be because they are wimps. Could be they don't want to do the heavier lifting on ENDA, even if it would benefit the most people in the LGBT community. The gay elites have made DADT a cause celebre, and that could be good for fundraising and opening up that gAyTM. And Democrats appealing to conservative values by arguing in favor of military effectiveness defines today's new Democratic M.O.

What is up with this whole deal? Why is ENDA the uninvited guest? Why are they pushing DADT repeal ahead of ENDA when they know it's not going to happen this year? Why aren't they calling for ENDA to be attached to a jobs bill and getting it through? This is a shell game. It's a way to do nothing and call it something. Progress, my foot. ENDA would do the most good for the most people - so you drop it in favor of something that can't be done this year. No pass.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. George Miller, Rep. Barney Frank - I am calling you out. We see what you're doing. Why are you shilling for the Administration's shell game with LGBT rights?


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Never voting Democrat again | February 3, 2010 6:50 PM

So long as the LGBT community has its collective head up its ass and refuses to see that the Democratic Party is every bit as homophobic as the Republicans and that the Democrats get off on saying pretty things to queers to get their money and their votes, we will never see progress. HomophObama is only the latest example of this shit. If you are voting for Democrats, YOU ARE PART OF THE FUCKING PROBLEM. An lgbt person voting for the Democrats and expecting change is like a Jew voting for the Nazis or a black man voting for the KKK and expecting something good. WE NEED TO BE PROTESTING AND SITTING IN AND PRESSURING WHATEVER POLITICIAN HAPPENS TO BE IN OFFICE, PERIOD. While the lgbt Democratic apologists keep on hoping, we're dying. Enough is enough. We need to draw a line in the sand.

I am a trans woman who is generally not fond of the military -- yet I think what the Democrats are doing with DADT is smart.

What is important is changing hearts and minds.

The military is one of the few respected instituations left. When the top military leaders state that gays and lesbians should be able to openly serve, it sends a strong signal.

The military is especially looked up to by conservatives. When conservatives see that military leaders accept gays and lesbians, some of them (hopefully many!) will change their minds as well. Hopefully some conservatives who run businesses will take it upon themselves to be more inclusive.

If we were to push hard on ENDA, the Republicans very likely will oppose it as a block and there is little room for persuasion. CEOs are discredited, even among conservatives, so it wouldn't help much to bring out a Republican CEO to talk about how ending discrimination is good for American business. And conservatives hate union leaders and won't listen to them at all. Conservatives will say that ENDA is being pushed by "liberal elites".

But it is much, much harder for the conservatives to say "no" to the military leaders, and they can't call them liberal elites.

All that said, I do wish that trans acceptance could be a part of DADT repeal and I am very disappointed that it has not been.

SkepticalCidada | February 3, 2010 6:59 PM

Two guesses:

1. Attaching ENDA to a bigger bill to "flip" the 60-vote rule would mean the bigger bill with ENDA would have to pass the House first. But House Democrats are apparently refusing to cast votes on "controversial" bills unless the Senate passes them first. The House members apparently feel "burned" over having cast a really controversial vote on cap and trade legislation, only to see the Senate refuse to take it up. In other words, the House members set themselves up for campaign attacks by casting that vote, and it ultimately wasn't necessary because Senate Democrats couldn't be trusted to follow suit. The House members aren't unwilling to pass some of this legislation, but they won't go first, only to cast a controversial vote and watch the bill die in the Senate. Pelosi seems to have caved on this and won't require them to cast controversial votes.

2. Attaching DADT to a Defense bill may be easier. For the strategy to work, it has to be a bill that the GOP won't be willing to filibuster (or won't have the votes to filibuster because some of their members break ranks). While the GOP would probably fail to filibuster a Defense bill over DADT, it may be that ENDA would induce them to filibuster any domestic bill, even a jobs bill. Attaching ENDA would let the GOP crow about how a jobs bill has all these "special interest" attachments to it. If nothing else, it would give them a pretext for voting against a jobs bill that they probably don't want but would otherwise be reluctant to vote against.

You're very right to raise the issue of attaching ENDA to something else. But there are some complications. One has to pick the right vehicle, and I'm not sure what that vehicle would be--some kind of truly must-pass legislation that the GOP wouldn't dare filibuster. What the domestic equivalent of the Defense bill?

bigolpoofter | February 3, 2010 8:14 PM

And what about the theoretically easier "small sh*t" in the LGBTQ Agenda, like rolling back "no promo homo" and ending tax penalties taking advantage of employer-sponsored DP benefits??!! As grand as the benefits of ENDA and DADT repeal may be, the financial inequities and health disparities created by NPH and taxation of DP benefits are just as real and deserve prompty action by a Democratic Congress and the President

I think they're using DADT as a distraction, so we won't notice that they're making the riskier ENDA disappear. It's just more proof that even the democrats will throw us away for a few votes. Does this mean they'll at least repeal DADT? No. Look where all the support is coming from: the military and the executive branch. The one essential player, Congress, has been almost totally silent. This isn't about repealing DADT. It's about stealing ENDA away under cover of night.

ENDA is a carrot that the dems dangle in front of us. Years from now, some democratic presidential candidate will still be promising to fight for ENDA. I know that sounds cynical, but candidate Bill Clinton touted his support for ENDA years ago. When candidate Barack Obama did the same thing, we bought it. It's a way to get our votes and our money year after year.

Congress can pass ENDA this year if they're willing to do the work. But as soon as they pass it - game's over. We've got to break the cycle by making it clear that we're not distracted. Naturally we support a repeal of DADT, but ENDA is still non-negotiable. That's the message I suggest we convey to the dems in power.

It's important to make our allies aware of this issue as well. They're less aware of specifics. They're liable to say, well, Obama and the democrats did pretty well, they made some progress on DADT and improved benefits for federal workers. We've got to help them see how we're being betrayed.

battybattybats battybattybats | February 3, 2010 11:06 PM

Logically an employment protection bill makes sense to be attached to an employment bill.

Giving the additional 'excuse' for many who might need one to vote for it of rolling all employment legislation together as a single bill.

Our political leaders need to be held accountable.
If a representative says she or he supports the
LBGT community, we should expect them to follow
with supportive actions. The time for viewing the
Democrats as completely on our side is over.

It is very hard for me to see how some one outside of the gay rights movement looking in would ever conclude that ENDA is a priority of the movement. Democrats are proceeding down the path of least resistance most acceptable to the Ls & Gs. At even the wisper down the lane hint that ENDA may not have 60 votes in the Senate, the response of the community was oh well, its dead for this year. Time to move on.

I'm not terribly excited about DADT, but from a logical perspective it makes sense for the government itself to stop discriminating before it mandates that all large private employers stop discriminating (I think the current version of ENDA has exceptions for small companies).

But yes, I think they're playing a shell game by distracting us from the fact that they're not willing to push for progress on ENDA.

I have been slammed more than once or twice about mentioning ENDA elsewhere on the World Wide Web. Even been told it is far more important to pass DADT or DOMA even. That the Obama Administration is great and good and pure. In turn I have accused the Democrats of playing the LGBT community against each other, and only taking token steps so they can point to some minor thing to deflect political heat. So you know why in my humble opinion ENDA or DADT or DOMA does not rate passage but is kept on the simmer? Because there is political downside to it with some races and areas, and there is little political upside for any of them by passage of it. There are people who are filing suit on the Hate Crimes Bill already charging it infringes on their right of Free Speech. (Bay City Michigan Federal Court) Granted they are by and large bigoted nut jobs but they do vote, and influence others to vote as they do. Some have even tried to get arrested to draw attention to their free speech right being taken away in connection to the Hate Crimes Bill. So the Democrats know there is downside for passage of such bills. They do not play well in some churches and there are people who will run against Democrats that will make this an issue in an election. Yet what is the upside for any of them? The LGBT community is not very likely to embrace the Republican party candidates most of whom court these people who are going to get their panties in a knot about passage of any of these "LGBT Special Protections" as they would term it. So there is no real urgency for the Democrats to work at passing those bills either. They may loose a few votes as a result of it. Never mind it is the right thing to do. That does not have anything to do with passage of such legislation. Right and wrong are just concepts to be discussed at the cost of lives and hardships largely unseen and unnoticed. Indeed it might even be argued that if they passed such legislation they would no longer have any thing of use to offer LGBT Americans come the next election or two or three. So why vote for the bills? Best to keep them around as a plank for their party for a while longer. No rush. Keep the donations coming addressed to the Democrat of your choice. Never mind that most data shows that over 70% of people support passage of ENDA. Drag out DADT for a bit of debate or appoint someone else to show how "supportive" they are with the required sound bite. Make sure they call the major news networks and have their good suit on for the photo op.

I don't understand how ENDA isn't priority #1. I'd rather have a stable job than join the military. I'd rather have a stable job than get married. The President is now talking about jobs being the main issue. But apparently only cissexuals deserve them.

I don't think it's certain that there'll be another stimulus, or even probable. Will there be a jobs bill to attach this to? We'll have to wait and see.

As for DADT, the WaPo's saying that Dems don't want to do it this year. They also say Republicans don't either, but that's to be expected.

I think adding ENDA to a Jobs bill would be a good way to move it forward but I doubt that the politicians wish to do that. The Republicans do not see any advantage in doing much more than looking like they are interested in compromise while posturing for the next election. To be honest and perhaps a bit frank about it the Democrats seem to be good at stepping on their own penis more than anything else. How else can you explain their inability to move much of what they promised forward? The only conclusion I can come to is that they have no interest in passing more LGBT legislation at this time. As I said once they pass the legislation they no longer have anything to court the votes and whatever money they can get from the LGBT community. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg so to speak. The bottom line, do not hold your breath on seeing anything in the way of LGBT legislation come forward. They may use it for debate some. Get it in the media but like many other things it will just fade away in some committee.

I have asked this question a trillion times with no answer. Which of our National Organizations has the lead on ENDA?

"How come no one has mentioned that in connection with ENDA to rebut these insidious news stories about how ENDA needs 60 votes?"

Because 'no one' is taking the lead on this!!

We as a community have to demonstrate to lawmakers that standing up for our equality is not a political risk. A super majority of Americans support ENDA. Our gayTM should zero in on reps. that support us in word and DEED. Have you seen the post on Huffpost. "Donations come flooding in to lawmakers that support a public option." Those are the types of headlines our community needs to be making.