Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Pelosi ENDA Discussion Belies Frank's "Whip Count" Defense

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | May 19, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Barney Frank, employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Mara Keisling, Pelosi, Rea Carey, whip count

Speaker Nancy Pelosi convened a conference call on Monday to quell rumors about the death of the two LGBT legislative agenda items: DADT repeal and ENDA.LIAR.jpg

Her discussion belied strong allegations made on Saturday by Rep. Barney Frank's office that Rea Carey and Mara Keisling, executive directors of the Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality, respectively, were essentially irresponsible liars for saying that ENDA is ready for a vote.

Way to go, Democratic leadership. Call our LGBT community leaders liars. Disempower them and make them afraid to say boo. Make us beg you for a vote.

Don't help us focus on lobbying our home legislators. Oh no. Divert our attention to lobbying our own frenemies who are supposedly our political leaders.

Then, tell us the reason you couldn't move on a vote is that we wasted time marching and lobbying our own leaders instead of lobbying our home legislators. (Okay, then, better click here to send yet another letter to your legislators.)

We are so on to you. Just schedule a vote and stop the bullshine, okay? We will be marching all across America this weekend.

Pelosi's Monday conference call followed on the heels of a statement from Rep. Barney Frank's office, issued Saturday, which disputed reports that Democratic leadership was delaying an ENDA vote, despite the fact that "whip counts" showed that there was a majority of Representatives in favor of ENDA, including both sexual orientation and gender identity.

In fact, Frank's office went so far as to provide quotes to Chris Geidner of MetroWeekly calling executive directors of major LGBT advocacy organizations "irresponsible." Rea Carey, Executive Director of the Task Force, and Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality, were basically called liars, though that word was not used, by Frank's office, for stating to Bay Windows on Thursday that the whip counts were complete. Irresponsible liars. That's pretty strong stuff, particularly when directed at our community's leaders.

Reading the Advocate article on Pelosi's Monday conference call, there is no mention of Pelosi's discussion of ENDA including any contention of incomplete whip counts. There is nothing about ongoing whip counts, or need to delay pending the outcome of any such actions. What does this tell you about Rep. Frank's office and their irresponsible liars comment? In fact, we know there are enough votes in the House, and we have known it for some time. I do think there are irresponsible liars here, but not Carey and Keisling.

However, Pelosi did come up with an ingenious new reason why ENDA cannot proceed now.

First, she said that taking a vote on ENDA and DADT in the same week is impossible from a scheduling standpoint. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to repeal DADT will be proposed next week. So that puts ENDA into June. And not the first week of June, either, as the House has a week off for Memorial Day. And of course, no markup has been scheduled on ENDA, and the notice period for that usually takes up a week. So we're looking at mid-June. What does that do to the possibility of the Senate having enough time to take it up before the August recess?

Oh, and there's more

Pelosi said she thought ENDA would have a much better likelihood of passing if DADT repeal were successfully ushered through first.

Can you see the chess move here? We have a clear majority on ENDA. We have a maybe majority on DADT repeal, and we have the deck stacked against that, what with Secretary Gates opposing repeal now, President Obama lying doggo, and a year-long study in the works.

If we don't get an amendment through on DADT repeal, they will say that they can't move a vote on ENDA.

But ENDA has the votes, even if DADT repeal doesn't.

Awesome chess move here. Block the stronger piece with a weaker one.

Here's my question. How is one supposed to remain interested in politics, and the good works that the Democrats are supposedly going to do when they get around to it, when this kind of shenanigans are going on? Why should I care enough to show up at the polls in November?

I'm almost starting to think I'd rather have a clear enemy, whom I can show to be truly bad for the country, than frenemies who can't pull off their own platform with a clear majority in both Houses of Congress and a Democratic Administration. "The brave man does it with a sword, the coward with a kiss."

UPDATE: The Washington Blade just published the fact that Senator Ben Nelson, a key vote needed to make DADT repeal happen, is voting no. The article seems to indicate that there is confusion as to whether there are enough votes to pass DADT. What will that do to ENDA, if ENDA is indeed linked to DADT repeal, as Speaker Pelosi seemed to indicate?


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Meanwhile George Miller has scheduled full committee hearings on the impact of concussions on high school athletes. Hey George it is simple. Concussions are bad. Are we going to propose making them illegal? Easy to fix...just outlaw all high school sports and be done with it. While you are at it outlaw vehicular traffic and you can save 4,000 lives a month.

Priorities? My priority is rapidly zeroing in on voting against all frenemies in November. Heck if we have to live in a society that wants us to shut up and go away then lets live in one that is blatantly honest about it.

Now remember, everyone, ignore Andrew when he comments, regardless of how tempting it is. His MO is to always get the last word, and if you want to also get the last word, then you end up with a long string of comments that have nothing to do with what Jillian has written. Just stick to the good information in this article.

"How is one supposed to remain interested in politics, and the good works that the Democrats are supposedly going to do when they get around to it, when this kind of shenanigans are going on? Why should I care enough to show up at the polls in November?

Politicians benefit from delaying issues, not from solving issues. That's why there is no "political solution" to LGBT Equality.

It seems you are beginning to understand that reality. Good. That's progress.

I'm not sure much can scare Rea and Mara. I'm also thinking of sitting 2010 out.

What can scare Rea and Mara is being frozen out of DC policy-making. That's pretty much their raison d'etre.

They are already frozen out. They just do not realize it. But they'd better behave and stay off the streets or even the illusion of involvement will evaporate.

Their "ENDA Demand" Press Conference was ignored yesterday. Oddly, they scheduled it on Primary Day. But why was it ignored?

Oldest political tactic in the book. Never give airtime to those who want it.

I have a copy of a letter that can be sent to your legislative leaders that contains all the arguments for repealing DADT if anyone wants the letter I will be happy to share it with you to be mailed. It is free for the asking I spent a lot of time on it and it was looked at by our county counselor for collectivity. Write me privately for a copy.
daniel_lewis_frommherz@mckenzievalleymarket.com

kori mika | May 19, 2010 3:13 PM

It looks like I'll be voting third party for quite some time! No way will the sleeze bag dems ever get my vote again. I would rather vote repubican. At least I know what they'll do! Now I have to go wash out my mouth and sanitize my hands after saying and typing that spiel!

I will (again) preface my comment with acknowledgment that I appreciate Jillian's efforts and everyone else trying to make a difference. I certainly do not have any quarrel with effort.

But, we have a problem. It is centered on this belief that we "elect" solutions and we do not - we elect politicians. Obama promised us "hope" and that's ALL we get. We don't get any guarantees and politics doesn't offer any.

I do not question Obama's promise to be our "fierce advocate" because within the realm of politics that title can mean many different things. He says he has a Plan (along with Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and others) and that they are '"working on it." We can only HOPE they are.

During the last seven months we have been introduced to a new tone in the LGBT Community. From the National Equality March to recent in-your-face publicity stunts from GetEQUAL the theme has been "demanding." The strategy was to make demands and hold politicians accountable. We were supposed to be loud enough and persistent enough to get them to ACT. It didn't work.

At the heart of our disagreement is whether or not we can influence politicians. I see NO evidence that we can UNLESS their constituents are on our side. This is the reality in many Northeastern States like Connecticut and Massachusetts. Courage is not required when you agree with your voters.

We spend a great deal of time and energy trying to influence politicians and little or no time trying to influence their constituents. Perhaps that is a seemingly impossible task in Oklahoma or Alabama, but it is doable in 42 of our 50 States. Research indicates a majority of residents in 42 States will stand with us for our equality. Fuck the other 8 States - they are not necessary.

Because of the US Senate we have NO CHOICE but to work on constituents beliefs about us. The alternative is to wait for the "cultural conversation" to catch up and for old beliefs to die with their believers. A clear majority of Americans will support our full equality in 2030 based on age-based "beliefs" and mortality tables. That's 20 years from now. Plus, the political balance-of-power will change several times.

We can either wait for the natural evolution of beliefs OR we can do something about it. In the 42 States that are already leaning towards our full equality we CAN enroll a majority of their voters in support of our full equality. That - and only that - will end the debate over our equality.

You can simply dismiss that reality and play politics for another 20 years, or we can figure out how to create the change we need - we can enroll our friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers. It is a big task, but the only one that we can verify numerically as being successful.

We are 20 million strong in America and yet half of us are afraid to "come out." Less than 1 million in our community is involved in any effort to obtain our equality. We need ALL of us participating in actions that will change us from a numerical minority into a powerful majority. Data demonstrates that two-thirds of our fellow citizens will support our full equality. We need to figure out how to enroll them and demonstrate their support. When we do, we WIN.

I disagree with the new tone that has been embraced by some in our community. We won't make progress embarrassing our friends, irritating them or even calling them "liars." They are politicians - lying is what they do. Plus, they benefit by delaying our equality, not delivering it. LGBT-issues are still very big in the world of political fundraising, no politician wants to lose that. The "ENDA Demand" press conference was ignored because of the "tone," not the substance. Even the media sees the folly of "demanding" and that applies to any issue, not just us.

It is my "hope" that we take the time to seriously question all tactics and strategies with an eye on winning, not just fighting. Politics is NOT our salvation - people are.

Ok reality check dont look for a vote till the primary elections are over and we see whose going home in november and who is lucky enough to be running for reelection.Yesterdays voting shows the voters are in a throw the bums out mode this year.

Caty
Politics is a contact sport with no rules.

Chris Daley | May 19, 2010 9:10 PM

Jillian -

your work on ENDA has been outstanding. I know I'm not alone in really appreciating the reporting and advocacy you've done thus far and look forward to it continuing until ENDA is law.

I am hoping you can help clarify something for me because I'm not seeing the contradiction in Frank's and Pelosi's statements. It seems that Mara and Rea were predicting that the bill, as written, could muster the votes to pass the House. It seems like most everyone, at least on principle, agrees with that.

The disagreement between the electeds and the community leaders seems to be whether we know what will happen if the Republicans offer a vote to recommit. Mara is quoted at the end of the Bay Windows article as again saying ENDA will pass but it is unclear, to me at least, whether she is saying that we have a completed whip count on the narrow issue of a vote to recommit.

If I'm understanding that correctly, I don't think Frank and Pelosi's offices are actually saying anything too different from each other. Both are saying that a vote to recommit could torpedo the bill (or at least the gender identity provisions of the bill) and that we need to do more work to shore up our votes in light of a vote to recommit.

From the Advocate's article on Pelosi's call: "On the call the speaker suggested that the motion to recommit could be harsher than activists originally anticipated and, while she believed ENDA could pass if it were put to vote right now, she was concerned that progressive Democrats could not overcome a narrowly targeted motion to recommit."

From the Metro Weekly's article quoting Frank's office (at least I think that is who they are quoting): "We have to make sure people are with us on both – on passage and the motion to recommit.'' It is this second portion, the motion to recommit, where Gural said the whip count is not yet complete."

Given your work on the issue, neither of these statements may seem genuine but it doesn't seem to me that, on their face, they are inconsistent with one another. Both offices seem to be saying that the vote to recommit is a problem and I don't think either Mara or Rea were saying (at least in the articles I've read) that we have completed whip counts on that specific issue. (And, of course, the comments from Frank's office were needlessly confrontational. We know that about him. We also know this legislation isn't going forward without him carrying a lot of the water on it.)

However, if we take Frank and Pelosi at face value (even just for the sake of argument), it seems that the disagreement is that our community leaders want to get a vote on the bill as written and take our chances on a vote to recommit and the electeds want to shore up support in advance of a hypothetical vote to recommit.

Again, I understand how this process can lead to skepticism about the veracity of statements from the electeds' offices but I find it helpful to at least lay out what the disagreement is based on the information we have in public statements (or even second hand accounts of quasi-public statements) and then speculate on how those statements may actually be masking other goals.

Mask? No, no it is really very simple even when you apply your logic. The calendar has been effectively used and we have been "played". Game over.

Thank you for your comment, Chris. Your contention that the dispute is about whether to take a chance on the motion to recommit is not correct.

Rea and Mara said the whip counts were done, including one on a motion to recommit to strip out gender identity. That was based on their understanding from people on The Hill.

Frankly, I have it on good authority that the two main whip counts, on the bill and the motion to recommit for gender identity, were completed two weeks ago.

The statements are inconsistent. It was wrong of Frank's office to spank our insufficiently tame community leaders in public for daring to speak up and ask for the bill after a year and a half.

Chris Daley | May 20, 2010 8:33 AM

Jillian -

thanks for the clarification. It's good to know that you've spoken to Mara and/or Rea (or seen an article other than the Bay Window article) where they make clear that the whip count is complete on the vote to recommit and that it comes out our way.

Is it also your position that Pelosi's office is misleading us when she (reportedly) expresses concern about being able to withstand a vote to recommit?

Best,
Chris

Motions to recommit, Chris, are not made until the bill is on the floor. Thus, all motions to recommit are hypothetical at this point. The MTR of which I was speaking was one to strip gender identity from the bill. The MTR of which Speaker Pelosi was speaking was not specified, but I guess that she refers to something like the one in the last few weeks where they wanted any federal employee disciplined for watching porn at work to not be paid. That one scuttled a jobs bill. She's right to be concerned about them doing something nasty, but that's going to be true of any bill coming up now.

As for you, I sense an ulterior motive in your question.

Chris Daley | May 20, 2010 1:55 PM

Jillian -

no motive here other than trying to better understand the conclusions you reached in your original post. Reading the accounts of the statements you reference in your post, I don't end up in exactly the same place. I do appreciate you standing up for Mara and Rea. But, from my reading, it doesn't seem that Frank's office and Nancy are contradicting each other.

In the larger scheme, I also don't think the Democratic party is intentionally sandbagging us or stringing us along to get more of our money. But, I am not out to convince you or anyone else of my views.

One of the best things about not working in the movement day-in and day-out anymore is that I no longer feel the duty to advocate for my point-of-view in every discussion.

Because I respect the work you're doing, I wanted to follow up on your post to see if I was missing something in this case and I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.

Best,

Chris

No problem, Chris. Over the last year and a half, I've developed a raging case of hair-trigger paranoia, fearing that transgender people are going to be denied ENDA again. Looks like I'm wrong, though -- seems as if everyone in the LGBT community is going to be thrown under the bus this time around.

But I don't want to look like another angry transgender person. :)

Anyone for cosmopolitans? appletinis?

Chris Daley | May 20, 2010 2:45 PM

Ahhh, hair-trigger paranoia, I remember thee well. I'm convinced that it (or whatever malady results from having your antennae up at all times) is a nearly inevitable by-product of doing this work.

A round of 'tinis or over-priced tea can definitely goes a long way towards turning it off for a minute.

Actually, now that you mention it, I think this would probably fall more in the range of post-traumatic stress disorder than paranoia. You know, when someone undergoes a very traumatic event, or series of events, and then they have a hair-trigger super sensitive fear response. That sounds a bit more accurate to me.

I think there's a liquor store on my way home.

Chris Daley | May 20, 2010 4:37 PM

Good point. Whatever the cause or symptoms, it's very real. This is obviously a longer conversation (and others are having it in some places) but figuring out how to identify those symptoms and proactively deal with them is something that I'd love to see the community do (or do more broadly if it is already being done in some places).

No LGBT-issues will be voted on before November.

That's the deal. Made in February.

More lies and crap from someone I personally consider perhaps the most useless Speaker of the House ever. ENDA should have been passed a year ago, if it was their intent to pass it that is. If their intent was to keep the LGBT community on the hook they have been very successful. I do not claim to see the future but it looks to me like they will play the delay game then just before ending the session pass it in the house so it will not make it through the Senate before the end of the session. This effectively allows it to die on the vine so to speak once again. I would hope I am wrong but it smells to me like Congressional BS from Washington to me where I am sitting.

One thing I did yesterday and I suggest anyone else who gets the little emails and letters from the Democratic National Committee asking for money for campaigns this fall, tell them NO ENDA passage, NO DADT repeal, NO MONEY for you! While we are not likely to make a huge dent in their contribution totals, if everyone who is a supporter of LGBT rights get that message across to them, perhaps they will be a bit more receptive.

What's the alternative when it comes to voting? If Dems lose seats in this election they'll just think they moved too far to the left. It seems that if we send them a message in this election it isn't going to be the right one.

I'm not interested in "sending a message." I'm just saying that if we get screwed on ENDA, I have bigger problems than worrying about whether election day is clear on my calendar.

It's all about accountability. If the Dems fail us again it has to cost them significantly. We'll have to hurt them as much as they hurt us because if Congress (that is, the House AND the Senate) still can't manage to bring this home even now then it's quite clear that the only way for LGBT Americans to see equality in this country anytime soon will be to begin directly and publicly targeting non-supportive Democrats for primary challenges like the Tea Party is doing with some success in the GOP.

Yes, it'll sting politically for a while, but if the Dems can't manage to find their spine on this after all these years, it'll then be up to us to find it for them.

I live in Pelosi's district in California. She is generally oriented toward supporting gay rights, but is a perfect example of a liberal politician elected in a mostly progressive district. Her commitment to gay rights comes from exposure to and pressure from the LGBT communities, but she does waiver under the weight of compromise from Democrats, sadly. The lesson here for me is that we must pressure her, using petitions, contacts, and non-violent direct actions. After all, we are talking about basic human civil rights, which should be a no-brainer!

You can only pressure Peolosi at the Polls. You get what you vote for.

If anything LGBT-related could pass the US Senate I'm sure she would push it in the House. We don't have the votes in the Senate.