Bil Browning

What's the holdup in getting ENDA through the House?

Filed By Bil Browning | February 12, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: bathrooms, employment non-discrimination, ENDA, House of Representatives, Markup, transgender

What's the hold up on ENDA? Why hasn't it been moved to a full vote in the House of Representatives? People-As-Clock-Hand.jpgWhat language was being "tweaked?"

Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Advocacy, and I talked (a lot) about the current state of ENDA - enough for several videos. I wanted to get this clip out quickly since so many folks wanted to know exactly what was being changed since the bulk of "tweaks" were about trans issues.

The answer? Notifying your employer, double recovery, and, of course, the bathroom issue.

Video after the jump.


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Fear of the homophobes. Simple.

Mara made the point it's better to flesh out details now, prior to markup. So I was disappointed she didn't clarify what the issues are behind THE issue: The Bathroom. I certainy hope that's not the deal breaker again. It should have been addressed after the ENDA debacle in 2007.

Mara, I'm glad you're out there doing what you're doing, but I'm glad I don't have your job. Selling the bullshine that is politics in DC has got to be wearing.

As many of you may recall, we were assured back in November that the only issues were disparate impact, double recovery and attorney's fees. At the time, I said that it made no sense that the bill was being held up for these non-controversial issues. I would have appreciated some openness by the Committee about the trans changes. Even now they're only hinting at it, and not releasing the language.

As far as the issue of "notification," it's not real hard to notify your employer, as in "Hi Boss, I'm transitioning to a new gender." It's happened thousands of times, and employers rarely have had a problem figuring it out. Or do we need forms in triplicate?

And what exactly are the new bathroom regs going to be? Why the secrecy? Are they hoping that if they spring this on the community at the last minute, we'll all be too stunned to protest?

Frankly, the delay has broken the momentum the community had last year, and selling this pig will only get harder as we approach the midterms.

At this point, the only things that will save us are breaking the filibuster or getting the President and Harry Reid working on those conservadems.

Jillian, I can imagine "notification" meaning a few other things. If I'm required to "notify my employer of [my] transition," what about the transition that occurred 5-10 years before I was hired? I would certainly hope it only means people transitioning on the job, but if it just says "notify your employer of your transition" I could see it being interpreted that way.

Or not just the word "notify" but what does "transition" mean. I worked for a company in another state and only ever communicated via email and phone. They had me down as female when I was employed, so they never had to change their documentation, but would I have had to notify them when I got the letter on my passport changed? Would I have to notify them if I have have a transition related surgery other then letting them know I need time off for a surgery?

As someone who is stealth to my employers, I'm very concerned about the potential interpretations a clause requiring employer notification of my transition.

Even now they're only hinting at it, and not releasing the language.
...
And what exactly are the new bathroom regs going to be?

From what I've read, it seems to me that these haven't been released because they haven't been finalized yet. It would be hard to release the language before it's written.

I know we've been stabbed in the back by our allies in Congress before, but remember, these tweaks are being done by people who want the bill passed. Better to have them do it now then to markup a slipshod bill and have the homophobes "fix" these issues by amendment.

I do agree on the loss of momentum though. I suspect this will pass the House and then stall in the Senate. And if the midterms are truly bad, our best chance might then be gone. Which is disappointing. But I also agree with Mara that the reason for the delay was mostly out of our hands and the hands of our allies. Congress was just too focused on healthcare reform, economic stimulus and other issues to pay attention to much else.

If the midterms are truly bad, then our best chance might then be gone".

The midterms will be worse than you can possibly imagine. The only chance ENDA has for the next 14 years is to be attached to an omnibus crisis employment relief bill - before November.

The odds of that are now near zero, as Reid withdrew the pork-laden version, in favour of a slimmed-down one. Getting ENDA inserted would be a tough ask.

Basically, with the current situation, no bill will pass unless the Religious Right approves.

That's my reading of the tealeaves anyway.

At least you are being honest.

Oh, I'm always honest: just sometimes wrong.

ENDA could have passed in 2009. But we missed the golden moment.

My call is Dems losing up to 14 senate seats in November. 6 are definitely gone. I think it possible the Dems will still have a majority, but that's 50/50 at best. The house I don't know about, I'm in Australia after all.

I think Reid realises that a Democrat minority in the senate is likely too - that's why he's doing everything he can to make sure the filibuster is still extant. The DNC will need it for at least the next 6 years, probably 10.

Bathrooms, Employer Notification and Health Care are now being sold to us as the hold-ups *in addition* to the reasons floated last November. Nice. Since we won't know much more until it's too late, here are my predictions. It would make me happy to be very wrong on every one of these...

Double Recovery (from November): I have a feeling that ENDA will have language that will let it take always precedence over Title VII, so we'll get screwed w/ the "double recovery fine-tuning". Possibly this is due to Title VII as I understand it not having a religious exemption -but you can bet ENDA will. Worse case scenario, at least we'll be protected from those damned atheist landlords and bosses.

Employer Notification: This worries me to no end and should *really* be worrying every LGBT that does not have a therapist's letter handy but still appears outside of their immediate bosses idea of male or female appearance or behavior. For transsexuals that are on track and about to transition employee notification conceivably could cross HIPAA lines depending on the situation. Even when HIPAA isn't involved, being less than human our medical conditions don't deserve the same privacy as other maladies that don't interfere with our ability to perform our jobs. This is wrong on a very basic level.

Bathrooms. The scare tactics of the conservatives are finally going to be codified into law; Yay for them! But, still very wrong.

Health Care...shouldn't our conditions just be treated like any other medical or psychological problem? Oh, that's right, it's *different* because of (religion based) moral biases in our culture. Again, fundamentally (!) wrong.

If trans people (umbrella and transsexual subgroup) are specifically treated differently from other groups with exclusions to protections, it kinda makes the "D" in "ENDA" ironic, no?

What ever happened to simple statements of equality like, "or on the basis of sex or gender identity"?

NOTIFICATION
Um…yeah, ‘noification to your employeer of your transition’ I can see that meaning “Notify your employer about ANY transition at ANY time” even if you transitioned at 16 and have always been documented as female in the work enviroment. Yeah, I can see those who simply do not understand the reasons for stealth to try their hardest to blast it apart with legislation.
Maybe they’ll issue a nice purple star for us to wear so we can leagally notifiy everyone of our presence.

BATHROOM
They always bring that up don’t they? Now they’re avoiding it..nah, they’re going to try something. Even when the bathroom issue is a non-issue.
I’ve been in the ladies and the mens. (yes, I know Im bad for doing it) Sometimes with in seconds (omg! Does anyone try to clean up after themselves EVER! I am not your mom people!) or after waiting in the ladies line for way too long and my tiny bladder says “You go now or I go now, your choice”. Its not like guys use the stall that much anyway.

Sorry, but I’ve been getting push/shoved/chased out of bathrooms since I was 8. I’m not willing to let someone else come along again to tell me I don’t belong in ‘their’ space.
I’ve got a bladder, its full and I’m not afraid to use it!

I suppose I am just a dummy buried in the snow, deep in the woods in a state that money forgot (Michigan), but it seems to me they are setting this up to once again snatch defeat from what seemed to be the jaws of victory. It really calls into question in my mind if they are truly interested in passing ENDA. I personally believe now they are not, but I have been wrong before and may be proved as such on this one too. I know speaking personally, I did the calls, wrote the emails, and encouraged several I know to do the same last year when I was encouraged to do so. It is now my feeling it has all been for nothing because that was a lifetime ago for those politicians. I mean my god they had the votes to just up and pass this thing along a party line vote last year. It would have seemed to me to have been a no brainer to just have done it then. Now in the light of the likely spanking the Democrats are going to take because they goofed away the last two years without a lot to show for it, I doubt many in Washington will stick their neck out at all on a piece of legislation that may be hard to explain back home in some districts. Lets face it if the Republicans had the super majority they would have managed to pass what ever they wanted and it certainly would not include ENDA. More likely re-education centers for LGBTQ persons to be "retrained" would be my guess given some home grown ones we have here.

Stonewall Girl Stonewall Girl | February 20, 2010 1:49 PM

Folks, getting a straight answer, (you should pardon the expression) about something in DC is at best difficult, if only because of the whole political system and the scene and all the nuances and alpha players.

As much as I'd like to be able to complain and/or be able to change the system, I'd rather focus on making ENDA happen ... NOW, and if as part of the process something actually changes for the better... great!

My feedback from the Hill is that for now some of the roadblocks have been addressed, and consistent with Barney Frank's recent words, ENDA is ready to move.

We actually have a lot of friends on the Hill that are fighting for us. The more we do to help ourselves, the more others will help us. We do have enemies, the obvious ones we know, but the most insidious are those that may be quietly hiding among a group who are deemed friends.

We can work around it! We need to channel the positive energy and gain more allies.

I think it is truly important to have a good relationship with staffers, sometimes you never know when that positive relationship can yield dividends!

What we all can do is to continue to show up, educate, lobby ... and this upcoming NCTE Lobby Day is a perfect opportunity for all of us! Show up ... if you cannot be in DC, go to the local office back home and let them know! Thank our supporters and continue to educate those who are uncommitted or have an honest problem. Work to get rid of our enemies!

It's coming up, a time for a full court press! We can do it! we must do it!

Zoe,
Have to disagree with your assessment of Democratic disaster in November.

While the chatter has been long and loud on the conservafool side, pundits as usual are ignoring the effect of pissed off African-American and Latino voters combined with progressive voters who DON'T want a return to GOP idiocy coming to the polls in the same percentages they did in 2008

All they have focused on is disgruntled white voters, who are a shrinking share of the US electorate.

In the 1994 'Angry White Male' midterms, there was a House banking scandal that happened three months before the election, Newt Gingrich's 'Contract With America' that had the Repugs singing the same message, the fact that Dems had unbroken control of congress for 40 years to run against, and GOP candidates running that year promising they wouldn't stay in congress longer that two Senate terms or three House terms.

Each election cycle is different. I remember the pundits claiming in 2006 the Republicans would hold on to control of Congress and got swamped in a Dem tsunami led by AA voters angry over Hurricane Katrina.

It's May..the elections in November...too many variables between now and then that could go in either direction.