Editors' Note: Guest blogger J. Todd (Tif) Fernandez is a volunteer activist with a Masters of Law in Human Rights from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and a JD and BA from Boston University. With a past career in state government and as a composer and writer, he's now pushing the Public Whip Count at ActOnPrinciples.org, and "Comprehensive=Inclusive Immigration Reform" with Out4Immigration.org.
GetEqual has done an amazing timeline on ENDA. But it has one major misleading flaw.
After correctly listing that in 1974, NY Congress people introduced a bill to directly amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to add "sex, sexual orientation and marital status," the timeline then makes a misleading connection to that strategy. Here's the too-clever transition moment in the timeline:
"1994 -- The modern version of the Civil Rights Amendment, now called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), is introduced with gay-only protection without public accommodations or housing provisions."
This is misleading because it suggests that ENDA IS an Amendment to the Civil Rights Act (CRA). When in fact, ENDA is a separate law, apart from the CRA. A separate and unequal law JUST FOR employment non-discrimination covering "sex. orient. and gender identity" (SO+GI), whereas "race, color, sex, national origin, and religion" are protected from employment discrimination UNDER (IN) the Civil Rights Act (Title VII).
ENDA is a separate water fountain - for the gays! And no one is saying it!
This makes ENDA a scam - because I for one didn't realize this until I studied the bill.
Here is the text of ENDA.
Interestingly, ENDA looks, smells, and sounds similar to the CRA (and it references the CRA many times for enforcement etc.), but doesn't put us in the CRA, because back in 1994 (and supposedly today) - the NAACP, NOW, etc. (the groups currently protected by the CRA) told the gays to STAY AWAY - DO NOT TOUCH - the CRA. And we obeyed, supposedly for "allied" support, which hasn't helped pass the bill in 16 years. Yet still, we obey.
It was "their law" and "civil rights" belonged to the black civil rights movement -- and those groups asserted then, and the NAACP still says, that they are afraid of making any changes to the CRA that might open the law up to Republican attempts to water down THEIR protections. So we did our own - for gays only - and we are STILL not yet asking for equal treatment and inclusion in the CRA.
How long will we allow the "fears" of protected groups to justify our exclusion?
And what does it say about US that we are STILL NOT even ASKING for equal inclusion in the CRA?
No one is being honest about this. If it passes, as is, Pres. Obama will go down in history as a mixed-race President who created a separate water fountain for gay people in employment discrimination. The law that protected HIS JOBS since he was a child (born in 1961, CRA passed in '64) WILL NOT INCLUDE US.
Those laws - called the CIVIL RIGHTS Laws - do more than end discrimination, they are a statement of U.S. policy AGAINST discrimination which says everyone protected under them are equal - race, color, sex, nat. orig., religion - all traits and covered groups - are equal to one another. By putting us apart - we are saying the opposite.
Even after/if ENDA passes, we will still have to fight to GET IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT - in an equal way. We will still not have "Civil Rights" for us.
I REALLY WISH our community would START TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT ENDA. If we know and tell the truth - and decide to accept this 2nd class citizenship-strategy, then FINE. But let that be a decision made in full disclosure.
The wording "the modern version of the Civil Rights amendment" - is misleading in an highly subtle way. This is not an amendment to the CRA, in any way, and not the equivalent of the 1974 bill filed by Ed Koch and Bella Azbug which, as I understand them, DID PUT US IN THE CRA - because at the time, we felt we were EQUAL to "race, color". Now we act as if we are not, because those groups told us to stay away, and we still bow to that social pressure which is nothing but homophobia misrepresented as fear.
WE CAN FIX ENDA - and put "SO+GI" in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. But this will take PRINCIPLE and SELF-RESPECT, which our current movement does not have.
Here is that language (Drafted by Karen Doering):
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, is amended to add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as prohibited basis' for discrimination in employment. Sections 2000e-2(a)-(d), §2000e-2(h), §2000e-2(j), §2000e-2(l), §2000e-2(m), §2000e-3(b), 2000e(g)(2)(A), §2000e-16(a), and §2000e-16(c), are amended every time the phrase "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin" appears to include after the word "sex" the following words:- "sexual orientation, gender identity,".
THIS IS WHAT EQUALITY UNDER THE LAW LOOKS LIKE. (And this is what The American Equality Bill calls for).
History will reveal the truth of this, and all involved will have brought dishonor upon our community and themselves. Are we that desperate? Do we think that little of ourselves?
Sorry GetEqual friends. I know you did not create ENDA or this 2nd class strategy. I know you're just trying to help move the existing agenda and hold folks accountable, and I wholeheartedly applaud that work.
But this timeline perpetuates the fraud. Please fix the timeline, or you and your supporters (including me) become a knowing party to the conspiracy.
You have to wonder: WHERE IS THE LGBT PRESS ON THIS? WHY ARE YOU NOT QUESTIONING THE DRAFTERS OF ENDA ABOUT THIS?
THE WHOLE POINT of our cause is that we are telling THE TRUTH. We are equal beings. Homophobia does kill. And we are entitled as a matter of human rights law and philosophy to be included fully in America's non-discrimination laws, which we call The Civil Rights Act of 1964.
To get there, we have to start telling the truth about ENDA.
[BTW: ENDA IS NOT REALLY GAYS-Only EITHER. And that's important, but not easy to capture in a soundbite. ENDA is not really a gays-only law because it covers "Sexual Orientation" which could be straight, bi, or gay, and "Gender Identity" which covers the full range. Obviously straight people and gender conforming people don't suffer discrimination like we do, and are not really the point, any more than "race and color" were intended to protect white people.]