Rebecca Juro

The Double-Screw Is In: Ted Kennedy and Senate Dems Set To Wimp Out On ENDA

Filed By Rebecca Juro | January 05, 2008 2:08 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ENDA, gender, LGBT, politics, Senate, transgender

The Washington Blade is reporting that a spokesperson for Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy has said that he will push for passage in the Senate of the crippled, non-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which passed the House last November.

Kennedy spokesperson Melissa Wagoner reportedly told the Blade in an email:

“Although Sen. Kennedy strongly supports protections against job discrimination for transgender workers, inaction won’t advance justice for anyone, and will just make it harder to pass any version of ENDA in 2009…We will most likely work to move the House-passed bill, rather than introducing a separate Senate bill…Because the same legislation must pass both the House and Senate, now that the House has acted, the only realistic way to get a bill to the president’s desk this Congress is to have the Senate pass the House bill.”

Wagoner also admitted that Democratic Senate leaders still don’t know if they will have enough Republican support for the bill during an election year to break a filibuster.

Well, given what we saw in the House, no one can honestly say they didn’t see this coming. Once again, we see Congressional Democrats place more importance on pandering to wealthy conformists and caving into conservative bigotry than on standing up for real American values and for protecting the poorest and most persecuted American minorities from unjust discrimination.

Interestingly, this time it seems this particular sellout of gender-variant Americans wasn’t done with the direct knowledge or participation of the Human Rights Campaign. According to an HRC internal memo leaked to webmistress and Bilerico Project contributor Marti Abernathey, HRC apparently did not expect ENDA to be voted on again by Congress until 2009, after a newly-elected President and Congress had already taken office.

While this might seem to be disastrous news on its face, such an assessment may be a bit hasty. Since it’s already a virtually foregone conclusion that President Bush will veto any version of ENDA which actually does make it to his desk, Kennedy’s intentions here are clearly nothing more than an essentially useless pandering exercise in an election year on the part of Senate Democratic leaders.

We already know this bill has virtually zero chance of becoming law this year, regardless of what happens in the Senate. That said, it would be useful to LGBT community activists to know exactly which Senators are willing to stand on principle and insist on real equality for all LGBT Americans, and which ones are willing to sell out the basic civil rights of the poorest and least politically potent Americans in order to potentially pander to gay and lesbian voters with an election upcoming, as their colleagues in the House leadership chose to.

Help us, Obi-Wan Obama, you’re our only hope…

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well here we go again...
Time to call your Senator and tell him or her to vote against ENDA.

The bill must die
The message we need to be sending is
Nobody is to be left behind.

Take care

I mean even if it should luck up and pass its going to be a vetoed so why waste time on a badly written bill.Wait till a bill that includes every one can be passed and then put Barney and Tammy to the screws and make them inclued all of us.

I'm surprised that Senator Kennedy would do this, but he is colleagues from the same state as Barney Frank...

I agree as long as we could get a good bill that far..
I don't think it is possiable at the federal level yet..
More work needs to be done to bring more of the states in line, then we would stand a chance..

It doesn't surprise Kennedy has been a sell out since his car went into the river and he had to talk his way out of murder charges.

Why do you think he has been such a lush since then.... He knows he is a sell out.

Take care

"Help us, Obi-Wan Obama, you’re our only hope."

This isn't the ENDA you're looking for.

No, really.

Trust me. It *really* isn't.

I have a bad feeling about this.

A non inclusive ENDA is being resurrected courtesy of the Massachusetts T haters club. As a refugee from this "liberal" state I will testify that incrementalism is a non directional concept.
A thank you to the bible belt where for the past 13 years I have been living the American dream.
Makes me wonder, Who are our true allies?

Caillean McMahon | January 6, 2008 11:23 AM

Somewhere, standing over the LGBT body politic, a mythical figure holding a stick and carrot is waving it. The carrot has been labelled ENDA, of course and the sleeping mass that is the Queer community begins to stir yet again.

Between the possibility of filibuster and the certainty of a sustainable veto, there is no chance of ENDA passing in any form. Nevertheless, it is critical to try and introduce the trans-less ENDA now to serve the purpose of a Siren leading the LGBT community to the rocks, creating internal confusion and division yet again, and silencing increasing demands from Queer America for candidates that acually embrace our agenda.

The Dems gets the majority of LGBT's believing that the Demorcatic party is the party of their cause and their only hope for equality. We are sold the insidious concept of crumbs from the table, incrementalism if you will. It silences complaints about the very last incidence of incrementalism, sacrificing the Hate Crimes act to pass a spending bill for a war that the Dems were elected to end.

The Dems get a lot out of the gesture with very little risk. The trans-less version has passed the House already and can go quickly to the Senate floor. It will be headling news for a bit til it dies through filibuster or from conservative Dems being too afraid to support it in an election year. We need not even bother with the President's possible reaction.

Incrementalism, the new political tocsin, is not even served, but dividing an active part of the Dem's base and rendering it less politically effective in terms of a collective ability to pressure for equality is very neatly accomplished. Our enthusiasm at supporting candidates, the "most supportive" (save Kucinich) of whom is only willing to offer is second class status is whipped up as we cheer"the histpric moment" of failing to get a Hate Crimes act or any form of ENDA.

And,for the historically minded: The incrementalists frequently toss up the civil rights movement as an example of how it always has been with us. It definitely was at one time. In the late 1860's, the women abolitionists who worked hard for ending slavery and frequently risked their lives, opposed extending the vote to non-whites without extending it to women, and did so loudly believing that they would be forgotten and their cause now opposed by the newly enfranchised. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was particularly vehement on the subject, feeling hugely betrayed by those she and her sisters had risked so much for. But, just as has been promised to the T community, women did in fact get the vote. They simply had to wait another 60 years.

In 2003, Key West and Monroe County, Florida banned discrimination in both public and private employment based on gender identity and expression. Since then, Palm Beach, Miami Beach, and several other Florida cities have done the same.

The fight should not only be in Washington, but should be in our local communities. If you can't convince your neighbors to do the right thing, there's no chance that you should expect Washington to do the right thing.