Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

16,000 Ask Pelosi To Move ENDA - Are You One of Them?

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | April 03, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Cleve Jones, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, LGBT rights, Nancy Pelosi, Pelosi, petition

Last week we shared with you an open letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Cleve Jones, a pioneering equal rights activist featured in the film "MILK," creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and Senior Advisor to the Courage Campaign. He asked that Speaker Pelosi move the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the House floor for a vote.

More than 16,000 of you have signed on already - can you add your name before we hand-deliver the petition next week? Sign up after the jump.

Dear Speaker Nancy Pelosi --

With health care legislation passing, now is the time to institute workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Rep. Tammy Baldwin says she believes that we have the votes to pass ENDA, and Rep. George Miller has said the bill is ready to come out of committee now that the health care bill has passed. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, we call on you to act boldly and decisively and bring ENDA to the floor for a vote now.

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16,000 signatures is .00615% of the US Adult Population. Only 1 signature for every 165,000 fellow citizens.

That'll scare her.

Gosh Andrew who does your math? 130 million people voted in the 2008 presidential election so 16,000 is one of every 8,125 voters (approximately).

Andrew, I think 16,000 in the one week that the petition's been out there is pretty good. That represents a million people, if we had the time and money to do that for a year. And the point isn't to scare her, but to show that there is support for this bill. a petition isn't a poll, it's a declaration of interest. Did you sign?

Jillian, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but these stunts makes us look even smaller and weaker than we are. If you want to get a Politicians attention you need to demonstrate support in meaningful numbers - especially if it is intended to "show there is support for the bill."

No, I didn't sign it - along with 259,984,000 other American adults.

Well, Andrew, your failure to support ENDA shows whose side you are really on.

You know that's not true Jillian. I just won't do anything that's counterproductive. Little stunts from decades ago are not going to create our equality. People joining us, will.

When you realize that, perhaps your energy and enthusiasm can go into finding a real solution. That would help our movement.

SarasNavel | April 4, 2010 3:06 AM

AndrewW, you are forgetting the multiplier effect.

I am actually very reluctant to support this ENDA until I know what's on it, in it, and behind it, and so far the level of secrecy has me very concerned that many of us won't like what we get but by then it will be too late.

But I signed the petition.

I've also put money and effort into countless other futile demonstrations of our smallness and weakness, as you are so eager to call them time and time again.

Because every time we do, we remind the politicians that we are here and have at least the potential to change their political reality if they anger us enough. No one demonstration is apt to do much, but if all of us in the various gender/sexuality transgression subgroups get together time and time again, we gain potential recognition and power as an aggregate. And the beauty of it is that because they see us as all the same, that aggregate in it's influence becomes far more than the sum of the percentages of L or G or T or B that jumped in for that particular fight.

We remind them that although we are varied and although we fight internally we also have the potential to stand together when it matters. The far right Xians are not so great in number either, but they are a thorn in the foot of politicians and so they are heard and have been able to pull themselves up to a level of influence. We must do the same.

That is why each one of these old school, outdated, insignificant techniques that you are so quick to scorn actually do matter. We aren't looking to change anyone's mind with a single petition or protest. We are in it for the long haul because we have to be, and we are reminding them that we have the potential to make their political lives much more interesting.

So far they have been content to throw us only bones; they are in a very real way testing us like a child tests it's parents' resolve for discipline. If we fade away, bones are all we will get. If instead we take those bones as an insult to every LGBT+ person and use them to push ourselves to redouble our efforts we will attain equality. Because you see, at some point the politicians will have more to risk than we do.

The politicians KNOW we are here. They don't need to be reminded, they need to be changed. THAT can only be accomplished with support from our fellow citizens - not reminding.

SarasNavel | April 4, 2010 12:43 PM

Ah, so now we are getting somewhere. Are you ready to reveal the great secrets revealed by your ponderings yet?

AndrewW, I'll ask you this directly and please be aware that if you cannot answer directly, your rantings and ravings of criticism lose all steam and credibility with me and likely, others as well:

What specific mechanisms do you propose we use to get the non-LGBT folk in our society to support us in our quest for equality?

That's simple:

1. Embrace accountability for all tactics, strategies and organizations.

2. Figure out how to win. Clearly, having the majority of our fellow citizens joining us and standing for equality would WIN.

3. Enroll fellow citizens by ASKING them to join us.

4. Create a mechanism for determining what percentage of Americans support our equality.

5. Make contributions to the cultural conversation that create a better understanding of the LGBT Community AND inspire them to support us.

NONE of these 5 steps are currently being done in the LGBT Movement.

There are approximately 10 million "out" members of the LGBT Community. Less than 1 million participate or contribute. That's because they do not believe we can win. We have never had a strategy that defined exactly how and when we would achieve our equality. Instead, we have only empty promises of HRC and politicians. We've had +40 years of that. Sooner or later we need to transform ourselves from a weak minority to a strong majority.

The way to get started is to stop wasting our time on stunts that only garner attention or "remind" politicians that we exist - they know. If we stop that useless activity and instead contribute to efforts that enable people to join us we can actually see victory.

Everything about our existence in America would change if the majority of Americans supported our equality. Before you dismiss that as impossible, please understand that two-thirds of our fellow citizens DO support our equality. We've just never demonstrated that - instead we trust in a political solutions or making more noise (demands).

We won't win until we become very honest and objective about our struggle and we look for effective tactics, strategies and organizations. If we do that all 10 million of us will participate and we'll successfully enroll the majority of America. We wouldn't be weak anymore. We wouldn't be victims, we'd be victorious.


Stonewall girl | April 4, 2010 9:15 PM

Politicians must ALWAYS be reminded we are here!Out of sight, out of mind!

The trick is to make us larger than we are ... smart activism on many levels! Strategic activism from the inside and outside! we must be persistent!

Actually, I think what you meant to say there Andrew was "I refuse to do anything I deem counterproductive.

To sit around bitching that there's not enough signatures to make a difference while refusing to sign - ostensibly because there's not enough signatures to make a difference - is a logical twist that requires no condemnation from me. The general wackiness sells itself.

I've signed. So now there's 16k+1.

I'm not sitting around "bitching" Bil. You are. There is always this chorus of "bitching" whenever logic is applied to various tactics and strategies you and/or Bilerico endorse. Consistently - without any evidence - you cheerlead people into activities that do not accomplish anything. Like Jillian, it is sufficient to just think they do, instead of figuring out what actually does help.

At the heart of these disagreements is your (and Jillian's) insistence on perpetuating our weak minority status and fixing our fate as a small group needing protections and special laws. Laws will never create our equality.

Sooner or later we need to get people to join us and support us - a silly little Petition to Nancy Pelosi doesn't accomplish that. In fact, it doesn't accomplish anything, well except that it remarkably makes a few people (16,001) believe they are being helpful.

We've had 40 years of these little stunts and plenty of faux activism. All it has accomplished is providing people an excuse for not actually figuring out how to win. It is a distraction.

Erica Keppler | April 4, 2010 2:03 PM

This is all classic rationalization of inactivity. Condemning the efforts of those actually trying to do something while refusing to do anything yourself or even offer reasonable alternative actions. Doing so gives a personal sense of superiority without any sort of commensurate exertion of effort. It's a leaching off of the accomplishments of others. No matter what others did in an organized effort, someone like Andrew would condemn it. It's not a disagreement with the effort so much as a joy in the condemning.

Still, there will always be people like this in our community. I could dive deeper into the reasons behind that, but I could come off as attacking. I will say that we can't escape the reality of psychologies of the people we are trying to reach. You can't get the community you want; you have to work with the community you've got. I can guarantee that any attempt to organize the community to action will get this sort of distraction from inside the community because there are a sizable number of people who draw so much personal energy from being a distraction. Arguing with them is the real distraction from any effort to win.

The thing I find most amusing is that their argument is typically self-defeating. Like Andrew, a common inactivity rationalization takes the form of, "There's something much more effective we all should do, so I'm not going to do this." However, in saying that, they expose the weakness of their own argument. Their refusal to participate in this effort illustrates that you can't get universal participation in any effort. We are not an army. We do not have a chain of command. We do not move as one mind. Any effort to move this community forward will always be conducted by a small percentage of our people, and hampered by another percentage that complains that we're not collectively doing something else. Any argument that we should all be doing something else is self defeating, because it contributes to preventing all of us from doing anything. We will never collectively all do anything. We must applaud the efforts of those trying to do something, and ignore the distraction of those trying to drag them down.

My advice Jillian: ignore these people. They argue from a self serving position of ego presented in a wrapper of false reason. Arguing with them only feeds their ego without hope reaching a resolution. They only waste your time and energy, and elevate the level of hostility in the community that chases people away.

Your argument is nonsense because I have NEVER suggested "inactivity." As far as I know, nobody else has, either.

The question is about how "effective" certain tactics and methods are. That's called accountability. It's a fair question, IF you are interested in winning.

The reality that 90% of our community is "inactive" and that they do not participate or contribute in any way, should give us all pause. It should require us to figure out why they are unwilling to participate.

YOU have chosen to insult them. I think a better tactic would be to figure out what would inspire them. What would give them hope?

Figuring out how to actually win, would be a good step in that direction.

Don't fear accountability - it is very helpful.

Renee Thomas | April 4, 2010 7:07 PM

And it injures your individual interest exactly how to sign such a position? Put another way, your interests are best served by carping from the sidelines?

I've signed and urged others to sign as well!

I signed it Jillian. I'll sign the next one and the next one and the next one until we have a fully inclusive bill signed into law.

Wow I guess I messed up and signed the petition the first day it come out. I should have sat on my hands for a few more years only taking breaks from said activity to condemn any other efforts.

How about taking a break and determining whether or not these silly stunts are actually effective?

Embracing accountability is not "condemning," unless you refuse to value time - yours, mine and others.

To learn more about AndrewW, check out the following link. http://tinyurl.com/ydcgtjd

He doesn't want passage of ENDA because it creates a special class for LGBT people.

In his own words:

"Collectively we seem to keep obscuring the real goal – equality. “Equal Rights” are not equality. Making us a “special class,” “protected class” or a “minority” only perpetuate our differences – instead of confirming our “sameness.” As a gay white man I do not want to be “tolerated” or “protected.” I would rather not gain “minority” or “victim” status, either."

Of course we DO NOT want to be permanently defined as a "minority" and have to rely on laws to protect us. We would much rather be considered equal and treated as such. Passing laws (45 years ago) didn't end racism and they won't end bigotry.

So, no I do not want to be a "protected class." I want to be equal. America is willing to do that, but not because we complain or demand, but because we form a majority - a majority that believes despite our differences, we are EQUAL.

Andrew I enjoyed reading your perspective and you have some valid points. What I did not see in your response was anything specific. You laid out tired old generalities with nothing containing any meat. Don't tell me you are an equality vegan with nothing to offer but tofu. Surely you can come up with a specific first step instead of just saying marshal a majority. Show me the way. I'm listening.

1. Embrace accountability for all tactics, strategies and organizations.

2. Figure out how to win. Clearly, having the majority of our fellow citizens joining us and standing for equality would WIN.

3. Enroll fellow citizens by ASKING them to join us and to support our full equality.

4. Create a mechanism for determining what percentage of Americans support our equality.

5. Make contributions to the cultural conversation that create a better understanding of the LGBT Community AND inspire them to support us.

Some of this is already in process.

I am still encouraging anyone that has a commitment to our movement to provide ideas and tactics that accomplish 1-5 above. You can see how difficult just introducing accountability has been. We must honestly and objectively analyze our tactics, methods, strategies and organizations.

@Andrew W

Great advice here.

1. Figure out how to win!
2. Once you have done that....enroll others.
3. Then document it all.
4. Then donate.

Sign me up!

Try again:

1. Embrace accountability for all tactics, strategies and organizations.

2. Figure out how to win. Clearly, having the majority of our fellow citizens joining us and standing for equality would WIN.

3. Enroll fellow citizens by ASKING them to join us.

4. Create a mechanism for determining what percentage of Americans support our equality.

5. Make contributions to the cultural conversation that create a better understanding of the LGBT Community AND inspire them to support us.

Andrew exhibits the classic characteristics of someone with a personality disorder. Which one is up for debate. There is no reasoning with him. He deals in absolutes and seems to enjoy the attention he gets by being unconventional and argumentative. If he simply did not wish to sign the petition, he would not have signed it and been done with the issue. But he has engaged several people in a circular argument. His goal is to argue and to create drama. And I think that's really sad. But he's one person out of thousands who have not or will not sign the petition.

Just childish insults "Tom?" Is that all you've got?

Some of us consider the effectiveness and success of our Movement seriously. If you have something to offer, please do. Save the insults for your friends and family.

Ricky D Harris | April 4, 2010 12:35 PM

I signed up. And I know what you mean about the numbers needed. A little bit of action makes a difference than a cheap talk with no action. I wanted to sign up, one more name makes a difference. Action speaks louder than words. Still, no matter how little or big the petition becomes, I know that I made a difference for my country. I want to see more soliders to make our country's security stronger than ever.

What difference?

Marc Salomon | April 4, 2010 3:20 PM

Direct action only works when it has popular support. The last thing we need is yet another nonprofit vanguard cadre of martyrs.

LGBT Democracy now!

AndrewW, according to Margaret Mead, myself and I'm sure many others, your logic is flawed, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." I certainly agree with her, a lot more than I agree with your rants.

In one week, 16,000 people, myself included, signed the petition, to express our strong support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA. In your world, this is a counterproductive stunt, in my world this is a group of concerned citizens actively engaged in taking positive action toward achieving our common goal of full equality. I wonder just how many people have to sign the petition before you satisfied and feel the need to stop your negative, judgmental tirades.

What I find counterproductive, is all the time you wasted writing all your critical posts of people who care enough to do something, could have been better spent, writing or calling your legislators to demand they push ENDA forward. I did not read all your posts, and need not read more than a few sentences, to see, we totally agree and your not open to considering others people's views.

Personally I feel, if one has nothing positive to add to the conversation, then I need not wish waste my time reading what hey have to say..From the little I read, I suspect your not a supporter of equality, ENDA nor a member of our community Even possibly be a member of an anti-gay right wing nut org, attempting to cause confusion and division between members of the GLBT community. I'm not buying any negative points your making and hope other will dismiss your rants, as you seem to dismiss their concern for achieving full equality.

All of that diatribe simply because I have suggested accountability?

If you want to defend these stunts make sense of them - provide some rationale.

I read your whole comment. I wouldn't respond to someone without actually doing that. You should try it sometime.

I also clicked on your link: JoinTheImpact - Tampa. Your last post was in 2008. JoinTheImpact failed. Just like EqualityAcrossAmerica and many others. Neither group had a strategy or a plan. They had a bunch of old ideas.

Maybe reading other people's comments BEFORE RESPONDING would be helpful. Maybe you'd learn something. After that, give some thought to the idea of accountability. We need to know what works, not just what makes you feel good. Our winning is more important than your feelings.

Maybe if those two groups focused on "what is required to actually win," you wouldn't have wasted a lot of people's time or energy. That's the goal - stop wasting time and energy and focusing on figuring out how to win.

Give it a shot.

the_czarina the_czarina | April 5, 2010 11:28 AM

i've signed, though like most people, i have reservations on both the content and the impact my signing will have.
but, for me, it was much, much better than doing nothing.

i am a daily reader of TBP, but as a str8 ally, i tend to lie low in the discussions.
it has always been my belief that engaging the 92% (?) of the population that is not LGBTQ is critical and that not nearly enough has been done by us str8 allies to ramp up the demands or by LGBTQ individuals in guiding us.

that's why i was delighted to see cyndi lauper's new project http://www.wegiveadamn.org/ go into serious overdrive last week. it was apprently given a boost by anna paquin coming out as bisexual.
the site is colorful, youthful, and informative in a very simplified way: and geared specifically to the str8 community.
i think it it an excellent and long overdue beginning.

Good for Cyndi Lauper. She understands we need to get people to join us. I hope her effort gets traction.

Marc Salomon | April 5, 2010 2:17 PM

We desperately need an inside/outside strategy to open the "Overton Window" that creates more political space than otherwise available. This worked in ACTUP and Earth First! 20 years ago, but once Clinton was elected, the insider activists were declawed, access predicated upon docility.

There are no cases of civil rights being won through direct action where the a good chunk of the community was not on board.

We also know that there were lessons learned from earlier struggles that used direct action techniques. Does GetEqual have any structures that might incorporate some of those lessons or are they going to make the same mistakes over and again? Emails to getequal have yet to be returned.

The last thing we need is to replace the aloof and unaccountable HRC with an aloof and unaccountable direct action organization centered around activists and their glory.

The HRC has managed to draw our increasingly popular movement to a policy standstill at the federal level by allowing its conservative funders' fixation on marriage and the military to dominate jobs and housing protections.

I believe that the HRC fears victory because it would mean an end to gala dinners and is taking steps to dribble out what little change it achieves in order to maintain its franchise.

It is axiomatic that GetEqual will fail unless it becomes a grassroots democratic operation that cannot be bought out with access at the cost of effectiveness.

The only thing that legislators understand is losing their lease on their seats and their patrons losing money. Until we are willing to oust our ostensible allies who are dragging ass on our civil rights, Republicrat and Demopublican alike, we will continue to see no progress.

16K is a lot of people. Keep going!

Erica Fields | April 5, 2010 4:55 PM

AndieW, if you spent as much time actually trying to come up with your winning strategy as you do telling us we are dupes for signing this letter, you might actually come up with a winning strategy. Martin Luther King's winning strategy included a lot of these supposed useless letters and tactics. Hmmmm...
Oh, and yes I signed this as well as passing it on to my many friends and family. Maybe we will hit 17k by tomorrow.

Thankfully, there are a number of people working on the solution. You can keep doing your feel good stunts.

MLK was more than 40 years ago. Wake-up, the world has changed. That doesn't mean you have to change, some people enjoy being stuck in the past - it's much easier.

Wow - 17,000 certainly shows the strength of the LGBT Community. Congratulations.

Andrew, if you don't like the 'stunts' then go somewhere else! It makes us sad to see you constantly abuse yourself by having to come in here. The pain we cause you must be intense! Save yourself! LEAVE ALREADY

Don't be sad, Dana. There are some people that are actually working on creating a successful, effective movement.

You can keep seeking attention, while the rest of us figure out how to actually win.