In response to an article published Tuesday by Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition, who outrageously contends that ENDA will trap young children in classrooms in hundreds of schools districts to be schooled in sexual fetishes by drag queens, Roll Call Magazine published my response.
Of course, by defining the ENDA debate as being about whether transgender teachers will trap and harm our young, Lafferty wins no matter what. That's why my response, in this mainstream context, ignores Lafferty's crazy fantasies, and discusses the real issue: is ENDA an appropriate response to discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace?
Thank you to Lisa Mottet and the people at the Task Force, who helped me craft this response. I wanted to poke fun at her crazy ideas about ENDA resulting in molestation of wounded Iraq-war veterans, but they convinced me that it wouldn't be a good meme for stuffy Roll Call readers and they were right. More about that, and the Roll Call article, and TVC's outrageously personal response, after the jump.
When I first saw Lafferty's article, my head exploded. I could not believe my eyes. I felt sick. Here's a woman from a known hate group on the watch list of the Southern Poverty Law Center, spouting feverish nonsense with very little relationship to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and Roll Call gave her a national forum! So I wrote a blog post on it here.
What I didn't know until later was that Roll Call didn't know that TVC was on that watch list. One could say that they should have known, but frankly, the information is not that easy to find. When I was told about the watch list, it took me quite a while to find it, and I knew what I was looking for. A staffer at Roll Call told me that, had they known this information, they might have made a different decision about whether to run her article. Well, we're all human, and we all make mistakes.
Imagine my surprise when I saw, the next day, that CBS had not only picked up on TVC's press release, but they had swallowed it whole and re-framed their own coverage to reflect TVC's biased agenda. Then I really saw red. I published a blog post excoriating them.
I communicated with CBSNews.com's editor. He was very nice. He pointed out that they merely report the news objectively, and without any bias towards one side or the other, but that he was open to suggestions about how to cover the story.
He also pointed out that they are very sensitive to transgender issues. He sent me links to several reports they had done, including such gems as "India's Transgender Beauty Pageant," and "Minister Reveals Transgender Secret." He didn't send me a link to "Transgender Killer Tells Massachusetts Taxpayers to Put Mammogram on Her Tab," but that was an equally sensitive portrayal. Naturally, I sent him a warm thank-you letter. Very warm. JK Rowling would have called it a Howler.
I also sent him a copy of the joint press release from the Task Force and other United ENDA organizations, and asked whether he would cover that. Haven't heard from him yet. But I'm sure we'll be getting together soon.
In my response to Lafferty in Roll Call, I didn't spend much time talking about her weird ideas, which would just perpetuate them to a crowd that knows little about ENDA or the problems that LGBT people face. Instead, I pointed out the hate group status of TVC, and their desire to distort the facts, and quickly moved on to what ENDA is designed to accomplish and the studies showing the need for it.
I looked to the testimony that the Task Force provided to Congress, discussing core American values, and the Census 2000 data showing a strong link between thriving economies and diversity. I noted the polls in which more than 70 percent of Americans favor a law against firing or harassing people just because they are gay, and the fact that a majority of the Congress is in favor of ENDA.
I asked readers to imagine what our lives would look like if we had listened to the bigots in the 1950s and 60s, pointing out that ENDA simply seeks to accomplish those same goals.
How would you have written a response?
Here's her article from Tuesday, and here's the link to my response.
UPDATE: The Traditional Values Coalition responded to my Roll Call article on their website, with an article entitled " 'Transgender' Man Attacks TVC." They spend quite a bit of space musing about my "genitals." Here's the compassionate tag line: "Tragically, Weiss will continue to live under the delusion that he is a woman, while pushing his political agenda on our nation's children." And they're wondering why they were labeled a hate group?