Editors' note: Pam Daniels is a writer and activist with 23 years experience in broadcast news and media including the staff of a former Governor.
"Get the votes" was the message from Representative Barney Frank to everyone in the LGBT Community. In an interview for Bilerico, Congressman Frank told me that the House leadership would put an inclusive ENDA up for a floor vote when they know they have enough votes to defeat a threatened motion to recommit. Mr. Frank confirmed that the votes are there to get the bill out of committee and to the floor before the November election but indicated they're still short of the votes required to stop an MTR though Mr. Frank declined to say how many votes are still needed.
My sources tell me that an inclusive ENDA remains shy by anywhere from 22 to 30 votes to defeat an MTR and those same sources say a subsequent margin of victory on a final floor vote will be larger than the minimum required 218 yea votes.
Congressman Frank urged LGBT activists along with supportive non-LGBT family and friends to focus on lobbying moderate republican and conserva-dems in person, by phone, and email.
"If the LGBT community gets the votes Inclusive ENDA will pass the house before the election," said Representative Frank. I followed up by asking Mr. Frank if demonstrations that target House members where having any impact and the congressman called them "useless."
Representative Frank asked me "who the most successful lobby group of all time on Capitol Hill was and still is?" Mr. Frank immediately answered his own question, "The NRA," referring to the Nation Rifle Association. He then added, "When was the last time the NRA demonstrated against members of Congress? They don't 'cause it doesn't work! The NRA lobbies individual members, that works!" Congressman Frank however was not critical of demonstrations that raise public awareness of issues, problems and solutions.
Robin McGehee, Director and Co-Founder of GetEqual.org doesn't agree with Representative Frank that GetEqual's demonstrations are useless.
McGeehee said in an interview with me for Bilerico that while she agrees "we always need to get the votes (needed to pass) any particular piece of legislation" but McGehee said "in my opinion it's just as much (Rep Frank's) responsibility to get those votes as a person who's promised this to our community. I would put the same challenge to Rep. Frank and House leadership."
GetEqual uses the website http://www.actonprinciples.org/enda-house/ to decide which House members to target for public demonstrations. Last week Ms. McGehee's group held protests against Representative Chris Carney (D PA) because "This is another person that (Mr. Frank and Speaker Pelosi) should be calling to task. He's got a D behind his name and he has not voted for hate crimes, did not vote for the Murphy Amendment, he did in 2007 vote for ENDA and he in my opinion is the epitome of what is wrong with the Democratic Party that claims (to be) the pride party or the pro-equality party. If (the Democrats) are gonna allow a legislator to take that type of stance then (the Democratic Party) is actually saying they're not gonna hold their own representatives accountable. I don't need to be giving blindly to the DNC to believe that (the House leadership) is gonna push Chris Carney to do the right thing."
As to Congressman Frank's premise that the LGBT Community should lobby individual members of the House the way the NRA does, Ms. McGehee said "I don't believe that that is GetEqual's job. We believe we have lobbied. I was one of those people that did the HRC and the Task Force about ENDA, Safe Schools and everything else under the sun. We have done the work that (House leadership) has asked us for. GetEqual's task is to highlight and illuminate the homophobia and transphobia that is being suffered by our community in a way that these legislators are forced to do the right thing. I'm tired of trying to gain the acceptance and the kind feelings of legislators who should be voting for the morally just thing." McGehee summed up: "We're tired of politely asking for our rights, we want to demand them."
Ms. McGehee also addressed the legislative logistics in this current very tight time frame of first getting Inclusive ENDA passed in the House with enough time to also win passage in the Senate before the end of this year. "If (House passage) is gonna happen in the lame duck (session) then it's just a symbolic vote because (then the) Senate's gonna say (they) can't schedule it (for a Senate vote) before the end of the year." McGehee concluded that "we're playing a big game of chicken if we're gonna wait 'til the lame duck (session)" for passage in both the House and Senate.
The U. S. House of Representatives is set to adjourn October 8th so members can go home to campaign.