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.
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?