Alex Blaze

White House is "99% there" for us, except when they're not

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 19, 2010 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: bisexual, Don't Ask Don't Tell, ENDA, Kerry Eleveld, legislation, lesbian, LGBT, transgender, White House

There's some hope and a lot of out-of-touchness in this article on a recent meeting between state LGBT orgs and the White House, but let me zoom in on the part about ENDA:

white-house.jpgTchen said that the administration was prioritizing DADT over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) because it could attach DADT to other legislation, making it much easier to move through Congress. By contrast, ENDA -- which would outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression -- is stand-alone legislation that faces more congressional hurdles. In the current political climate, securing a firm commitment of 60 Senate votes to support ENDA is proving far more difficult than the administration anticipated. These obstacles have not, Tchen claimed, diminished President Obama's support for the legislation.

Acknowledging that some LGBT advocates are quite frustrated with the president's progress on equality issues, Tchen urged statewide leaders to let the White House know when their constituents are displeased.

Let me save those statewide leaders some time: the constituents are displeased.

She continued:

"When you are frustrated, "she stated, "you should speak out and hold our feet to the fire."

This reminds me of Pelosi's recent statement on ENDA: "Make me." I don't know what she meant by that, since we've been talking up a storm about it, marching, calling, etc. Unless she wants us to actually turn violent, there really isn't much room to increase pressure on politicians themselves.

Considering the excellent numbers ENDA gets when polled, the pressure for that has to be put on the politicians themselves. The Democrats in Washington are more homophobic than their constituents and, while it's not fashionable to say that you're in favor of homos getting fired because being gay is icky, it's what they believe and my guess is they're letting Congressional leadership know they don't want to take votes on stand-alone LGBT legislation.

I don't see why they can't get creative and make ENDA part of a larger bill. DADT really doesn't have much to do with the Defense Department's budget other than that it's the Defense Department that's involved in both. Why not add ENDA to a jobs bill?Who knows when the next one is coming, but is there anyone in the Senate who'd vote for a jobs bill but would reject the entire thing over ENDA?

Anyway, the White House, for all their "speak out" and "make me" talk, actually doesn't take to kindly to us speaking out:

Bond asserted, "There is still a lot of work to do" before DOMA will be repealed. "Look at the trouble we're having with ENDA." he added. But Bond conceded that there are inconsistencies in President Obama's positions.

In response, Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director of Equality Maryland, stated, "Respectfully, we need President Obama to push for full inclusion of the LGBT community on ENDA, on marriage -- we need the full get, not the lesser get. The highest office in the land sets the tone for the whole country." Bond agreed, but expressed frustration at the often-intense criticism levied, particularly by bloggers, against an administration that is "99 percent supportive of your issues."

Some people are organizing around this statement (click the link to find an easy way to send a message), trying to get the White House on board for same-sex marriage. I don't really know why - Obama can be supportive of an issue without anything moving. Take ENDA for example. Obama's been supportive of that for years and it can't even get a vote in the House. Changing his opinion on marriage won't do much for that either other than get rightwingers to stop comparing themselves to him on that issue.

As I said above, there was some hope in Kerry Eleveld's article, including several pages of administrative and bureaucratic changes. The whole thing is worth a read if you're keeping up on these issues. We've heard about these before, but seeing them all together does show that some things do change with a Democratic administration.

Kenny said Jeremy Bishop from the Department of Labor discussed funding opportunities that Kenny didn't know were newly available to HIV/AIDS organizations.

"He talked about all the requests for proposals that the office sends out and that the LGBT community isn't even on the list for," Kenny explained. "So they're proactively trying to assemble appropriate LGBT organizations in order to invite them into the process."

Kenny said he immediately forwarded the information about grants worth about $500,000 to $1.5 million to two Florida HIV/AIDS groups.

"That's a lot of money for an HIV/AIDS organization that's struggling to get by," he said.[...]

Although none of the information discussed was entirely new, Broaddus said it was an important educational opportunity about information she wished were available to more people.

"We did ask, 'Why isn't the administration doing more to let people know about the things we're learning in our briefing today?'" she said. "They acknowledged that they hadn't done a good job of getting that out."

But by and large, Broaddus and Kenny walked away feeling like the government is doing a lot of under-the-radar work on behalf of the community.

"The point is, there's a lot going on in the way the government is approaching LGBT people that's very different and that will have a long-term impact," said Broaddus. "It's changing the conversation in government throughout all levels of government."

Kenny noted that he got the sense they were literally going through the federal government code "line by line" to see what could be addressed.

I look at liberal nonprofits talking about how great Democrats are with a jaundiced eye, but that'd be a positive development if those HIV/AIDS orgs get those grants.


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The problem seems to be that either:

A) The orgs get the grant and people complain that it's not enough

or

B) The orgs get approved the grant and told to expect a check soon but it never arrives

And there we have the Obama administration in a nutshell

There is NO "political solution" to LGBT Equality.

So,no politics were involved in what we have achieved so far in this long struggle for GLBT rights? I know you think you have the only right answer but the point is that many avenues have to be used and many tactics have to be tried. It has produced results and you just choose to say it does not work. The things that are done do change hearts and minds that is why the polls show the public view of our issues trending towards out views. So, once more you are not the only one with the answer. You are right about "enrolling our fellow Americans" but we do that in many of the things we do every day in this struggle and yes by the protests and disruptions that you so willingly call childish stunts or publicity stunts. Guess what they are for publicity but it is not childish to demand you rights!

Tell me how you feel about "politics" on November 3rd. It's going to be 1994 all over again.

There has been progress in public opinion because of the changing cultural conversation. Old ideas are dying and religion is losing its influence.

We are being used by politics. The only way to win politically is to have majority support from our fellow citizens. You get that by asking, not voting or playing politics. You get that by enrolling people to stand with us. Maybe you are content just assigning that job to politicians or to a political party, but it would be much more effective if we simply did it ourselves.

AndrewW I am sorry but am sick of hearing this. Either put up or shut up. Tell us ole wise one what is the solution?

I'm sorry you are sick Tim.

Changing minds is the solution. Complaining doesn't change minds - education does.

We will not win politically until we enroll our fellow Americans. That requires education, enlightenment and enrollment. Until we do that, politics will continue to provide false hope. It is a waste of time and energy.

Gotta jump on the bandwagon here; I'm tired of the tsk-tsking from your corner as well.

Education and enlightenment and enrollment is fine and dandy. What are you doing to make that happen, Andrew? What org are you working with, if any? Do you have a plan of action besides "get out there and educate people" - or is that just your choicest complaint?

I wish we'd spend more time empowering LGBTQ youth to live healthy, fulfilled lives. Do I complain about it here? No, and I've even got a platform to do so! I put my money where my mouth is and volunteer for a youth center nearby.

So, babydoll, what's your grand plan? I'd love to compare notes on how we are educating the public.

I actually signed up to comment, because I too want to know your solution. You keep saying we need out fellow Americians on board, and that we need futher education. Well, almost 80% of our fellow Americans believe DADT should be repealed, an overwhelming majority believe ENDA should be the law, and now a majority feel that our relationships are legitimate, moral, and deserving of legal recognition. So if getting our fellow Americans on board is your solution, then why aren't we further along?

Our problem is legislative. Discrimination against us has been codified into Federal, State, and local government policy. If our problem is legistative, then our solution must also be legislative. And whether we like it or not, that demands a "political solution" to the discrimination against us.

I'm glad you signed up to comment Amber.

The majority of Americans may support ENDA and the repeal of DADT, but that's not how the US Senate works. We don't have enough votes to pass anything in the US Senate. We won't have enough votes until 7-8 States go from anti-gay to supportive.

People can scream all they want about "national polls" but they don't clearly reflect support in individual States. That effort has begun. We poll positively in 27 US States.

So, insufficient votes make it..... wait for it.........a political problem. Well there ya go!

Andrew, with all due respect, the education is done. Everyone but the rabid right and the United States Congress has long figured out that we're no threat to anyone. The poll numbers show that the public is solidly behind us.

But Congress doesnt like controversial issues during an election year -- which seems these days to be every year. Until the Democrats get it together, get some backbone, and start whooping some Republican ass by showing these buffoons and their radical American-style Taliban brethren the error of their ways, education will continue to be a non-starter.

It doesn't matter how many times you repeat it Sean - it doesn't make it true. 23 States are anti-LGBT. 27 States are supportive. We need to get 7-8 States to create enough votes in the US Senate to pass LGBT legislation.

National polls don't influence politicians from Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi and twenty other States - religion does. Until we do some work there, we will continue to lose politically.

You're simply repeating back what I wrote, Andrew. National polls dont work when the politicians are so worried about what the religious right -- no matter how small a minority of the voting bloc it might be -- will do during an election cycle. That has zero to do with education, sorry, and everything to do with building some backbone and standing up to these "people".

You yourself say it: "national polls dont influence politicians from Oklahoma etc -- religion does". And there is no "educating" the supposedly devout Christian. It's like trying to find a compassionate conservative.

We - LGBT issues - are 50/50 in 10 States. We can change that. Pretending that "national polls" will change that is just false hope.

Sorry, but I have absolutely no idea what that comment means.

Let me explain. It's not complicated.

In 10 Sates we poll about 50/50. We need to change public opinion in some of THOSE States. If we DON'T, we will not get enough votes in the US Senate.

So, you can yell and scream all across America - but, if you don't address the political problem of the US Senate - you are simply wasting your time and energy. THAT is what GetEQUAL is doing. It isn't effective.

We're just a few days from the date when Health & Human Services is supposed to finalize its rule on hospital visitations. This has been Obama's big campaign talking point since 2008. Let's see how many hospitals actually announce any changes to their policies and how much effect this actually has.

Hey Alex-

Good article. One qualm- people keep mentioning ENDA's stellar polling numbers. I'd like to see the cross-tabs on that.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately) national poll numbers on legislation don't mean that much- as its about the polling numbers for different legislative districts.

I would imagine 90% of people in DC support ENDA but in my parent's district in NC (covered by a Democrat) that number is probably less than 50%.

We are a very polarized country- and everytime I go home to NC I realize that. What I find boring and trite here they find avant garde and pushing the limits.

Simply stating nationally that ENDA polls great does not get at the reality of the set up of politics in this country- that states with 100,000 people have the same representation (in the senate) as states with 10 million.

I am still hopeful about DADT repeal. I think once we are able to show that the military integrated and the world did not turn into some incredibly hot gay porn flick - that some of the resistance towards ENDA will dissipate.

Although, maybe I would prefer the porn flick outcome.

The only poll I know about for NC is from late 2001, but it puts LGBT employment protections at 56-61%, depending on private or public employment.

http://www.tgender.net/taw/misc/ncpoll.html

I would suspect the number's grown since then.

66% in Ohio:

http://www.equalityohio.org/08site/HousingandEmployment.htm

Utah's also at 66%:

http://www.bilerico.com/2010/02/congress_and_the_public_dont_see_eye-to-eye_on_end.php

The problem with the polling here is that it's kind of hit and miss. We don't have numbers on every state, and the numbers we have are often old (I'd say that they're most likely to be better, but it'd be good to have proof). The polling also asks about the generic idea of banning discrimination against LGBT people, not ENDA specifically, although that probably wouldn't change much either.

As for crosstabs from national polls, a couple professors tried to do that and got great numbers for employment protections (above 50% in every state but Oklahoma, which got 49%):

http://www.stat.columbia.edu/~cook/movabletype/archives/2009/06/gay_rights_are.html

There should be more polling one on this, but while media orgs and advocacy groups, etc., like to poll on marriage and DADT, there isn't much going on on this issue. The last national poll we have, where we get the 89% number, is from Gallup in 2008. Trans protections were last polled in 2002, and had 61% of the population in favor.

The big problem is our agenda adds up to almost nothing, compared to the protections from discrimination covered by the Civil Rights Act.

Our agenda (repeal dadt & doma, enda and uafa) is only about 10% of what's covered in the Civil Rights Act. This is ALL WE'VE asked for. So they support 99% of 10% of our Equality.

This is why we need to PUSH our FULL EQUAL CIVIL RIGHTS to the forefront of the debate.

The American Equality Bill (http://bit.ly/AEBnow) puts "sexual orientation + gender identity" IN THE '64 CIVIL RIGHTS ACT.

This covers VAST areas of life (employment, housing, credit, gov't buildings - like schools, private places open to the public, and ALL fed. funded programs (adoption, health, homeless youth).

DEMAND OBAMA FILE THE AEB - by quickly FAXING:

(via free fax online faxzero.com)

http://bit.ly/AEBpleaseFILEpdf

To:
The WHITE HOUSE
Brian Bond, LGBT Liaison
WH Fax: 202-456-2461.

Let's CHANGE THE AGENDA. FULL CIVIL RIGHTS NOW!

The big problem is our agenda adds up to almost nothing, compared to the protections from discrimination covered by the Civil Rights Act.

Our agenda (repeal dadt & doma, enda and uafa) is only about 10% of what's covered in the Civil Rights Act. This is ALL WE'VE asked for. So they support 99% of 10% of our Equality.

This is why we need to PUSH our FULL EQUAL CIVIL RIGHTS to the forefront of the debate.

The American Equality Bill (http://bit.ly/AEBnow) puts "sexual orientation + gender identity" IN THE '64 CIVIL RIGHTS ACT.

This covers VAST areas of life (employment, housing, credit, gov't buildings - like schools, private places open to the public, and ALL fed. funded programs (adoption, health, homeless youth).

DEMAND OBAMA FILE THE AEB - by quickly FAXING:

(via free fax online faxzero.com)

http://bit.ly/AEBpleaseFILEpdf

To:
The WHITE HOUSE
Brian Bond, LGBT Liaison
WH Fax: 202-456-2461.

Let's CHANGE THE AGENDA. FULL CIVIL RIGHTS NOW!

Pelosi's "make me" comment was meant to be provokative, and I heard it as "keep it up, because we aren't ready to act on this yet." I also think its a positive sign that the Obama admin has expressed "frustration" over what is being said in the blogosphere because that tells me they are paying attention. Again, I say "keep it up."

I am not extremely concerned about public opinion because historical evidence suggests that on social issues policy change always precedes attitudinal change (i.e. women's suffrage, striking down Jim Crowe laws, striking down anti-miscegenation laws, racially integrating our military- by executive order no less). So I agree with those who say this is a legislative/policy problem. When the policy changes the hearts and minds will follow- albeit in 10 years. So I say keep up the pressure on all fronts- blogosphere, public protests, educating our neighbors, and most importantly hitting the legislators in the pocket-book!

I think the policy precedes attitudinal change has a psychological basis- its called exposure and habituation. Once people are exposed to what they fear and find out they will not die, the world will not explode, God will not send a fierce lightning bolt to destroy the country, they will calm down and accept it. Then it becomes a part of their reality and everyting is kosher.

And in the meantime, every time someone loses their job because they are gay or trans, every time someone loses their LIFE because they are gay or trans, we should just shut up and not bother the politicians and instead talk to our neighbors? Yeah that tack will certainly get us our rights MUCH quicker. That was basically the tactic that was employed by so many queers pre-Stonewall. Yeah assimilationist bullshit certainly got us soooo far back then. Not to mention you are completely ignoring the fact that our greater visibility on the political arena as we fight for our rights HAS garnered us much support and it rises all the time.

He maybe 99% 'there' but he sure ain't HERE!

The White House is 8% there. We had 12 pieces of LGBT legislation before the Congress this year. One piece got passed and signed, the Hate Crimes Act. One out of twelve is 8%. Fuck you Obama and your Democratic phony cronies on the hill.

I think I've figured it out: AndrewW is a closet Republican!

He gives us a Bohener-worthy contention that he has a plan, but never actually tells you what the plan is. It's the equivalent of that GOP "budget" that contained all that conservative rhetoric but no actual facts or figures.

Politics? It's nothing but politics, and AndrewW is the one who's playing it. Talk turkey or stop talking, Andrew. It's getting harder and harder to take anything you say seriously.

Becky - publicly stated "secret plans" have a much longer history with the R's then Orangina.

They all seem to boil down to the same thing in the end though.

I will NEVER view our community as "demanding rights" until we actually have a bargaining chip to demand with; everything else we do amounts to whining and begging, since GOV will always have the upper hand until $$$ comes into play.

You may know I believe in a TAX REVOLT, and also know that 99.99% of folks see this as insane. It's OK, I see all other methods of demanding (begging) for rights as "insane" also.

We should NOT fear the government! Government should FEAR us, esp. when it abuses, demonizes, terrorizes, and segregates our beloved families from civil law - all due to ignorance and lies.

If "Fear of Government" (i.e. - prison) is the only reason we are NOT engaging in a TAX REVOLT, then we will never be equal within the next 30 years. I'd never instigate violence, but I DO believe in self defense and protecting property, bearing arms if needed. It's the American Way.
http://gaytaxprotest.blogspot.com/2010/08/fear-will-get-you-nowhere.html

Until we compliment eloquent words and lobbying with civil disobedience, til we inconvienience the religious organisations that buy air time to lie about us and overtly TAKE AWAY OUR RIGHTS we will only continue to be whining ineffectively.

Failing to support us has to have consequences.

"Failing to support us has to have consequences."

What are those "consequences?" Embarrassing people? Complaining? Neither is effective.