Joe Mirabella

'Respect for Marriage Act' Is the Best Name Ever

Filed By Joe Mirabella | March 17, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: DOMA, ENDA, Respect for Marriage Act

On Wednesday the House and Senate versions of the repeal of DOMA were introduced under the name the "Respect for Marriage Act." This is the best messaging on LGBT rights at the federal level ever. Who ever came up with this name needs a big pat on the back.

respect.jpgI've already shared my distaste for the name "ENDA." What the heck? Why do we keep beating our heads against the wall with that one? It doesn't stick in the mind. It is easy to shoot down for our opponents, and it doesn't say anything about what the bill does.

The Respect for Marriage Act, though, is perfectly coined. I can't wait for Maggie Gallagher to say how upset she is about the "Respect for Marriage Act" because she wants to "protect marriage."

From what, Maggie? From respect? The thought of it is making me giggle to myself as I write this. Our team is finally thinking like Republicans. Now let's just do the same for ENDA, and we're good to go. How about, "Putting America to Work" or "Everyone Gets a Job" or "No One Can Kick You Out of Your House because You're You Act." OK, that last one was a stretch, but I think you get the idea.


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1. Whatever problem you may have with ENDA's name, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act actually does say "what the bill does." If the problem is that we usually abbreviate the name, then "DOMA repeal," which is what the Respect for Marriage Act will be called by most people, falls into the same trap.

2. "Putting America to Work" or "Everyone Gets a Job" aren't good ideas because the ENDA wouldn't do that at all. Since there are bills that would do that, so it'd get confusing. Back in the 60's a bill for full employment (that is, to completely do away with unemployment) was on the verge of passing, and perhaps that's something that could have been called "Everyone Gets a Job." Or maybe economic stimulus targeted at job creation could be called that, even if it's not "Everyone."

I'm not the sort of person who should be thinking about this... is there another idea for the bill's name? It already has "nondiscrimination" in it, and most people don't want to be in favor of discrimination.

3. ENDA didn't fail because the right, Maggie Gallagher, or "our opponents" mobilized against it and "shot it down." They barely said peep against ENDA over the last two years (compare their quiet-ness on ENDA with their hosannahs and pitchforks and torches on DADT repeal). It failed because the Democratic party didn't want it to pass.

4. I actually don't think that people are so easily fooled by the names of legislation. Republicans don't get ahead because of the names of their bills, but because conservative institutions have tons of money to dump into passing what they want and because conservative entities have been buying up Democratic politicians.

People will still know that the Respect for Marriage Act is DOMA repeal. I don't think we should base our political strategies on the idea that the American people are too stupid to function.

5. I don't know if it's the best messaging ever. In the same vein, DADT repeal was officially known (in its original form, not the deal that passed) as "The Military Readiness Enhancement Act." But everyone called it "DADT repeal" because that's what it was. And it failed twice in the Senate before passing despite overwhelming public support.

What were the people who opposed it against, military readiness? No, they were against LGB people serving openly in the military, or, if you asked them, homosexuality among the troops. People weren't fooled by the name.

ENDA should be renamed "The Free Porn & Beer Act of 2011" It'd sail through Congress with a huge margin of public approval.

How about Employee Protections Act - perhaps this could include ENDA and create a cross-industry union &/ employee arbitration system to solve the protests over collective bargaining bans happening in Wisconsin and elsewhere that would prevent costly state legal battles and provide that bargaining or appeal for inflation-adjusted pay at a federal level.

Maybe as a step up from the National Labor Relations Act of 35.