Bil Browning

Indiana Equality opposes ENDA: Calls it "segregation"

Filed By Bil Browning | June 17, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Politics
Tags: civil rights groups, employment non-discrimination, ENDA, federal legislation, Indiana Equality, Kathy Sarris, Mark St. John, segregation

In a stunning and controversial move, Indiana's statewide LGBT organization, Indiana Equality, has publicly called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) "a new form of segregation," and will not support the proposed federal legislation. Instead, the group will only accept full inclusion in the federal civil rights code.

IElogo.pngThere is a window of opportunity now that may not come for another generation. If we push for less than full inclusion, it may be more difficult to motivate public support for full civil right protections. We should not ask for less than we need.

Anything less than full inclusion is unacceptable. Accordingly, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (END) [sic] as currently proposed, cannot be accepted, supported or promoted by Indiana Equality.
Clearly, ENDA doesn't make us equal - rather, it creates a new form of segregation. It does not provide protections in housing and public accommodations. There are no protections for LGBT children in the public schools where administrators continue to turn a blind eye to harassment and brutality. With ENDA, we are only marginally protected in the workplace.

The complete text of the statement is after the jump.

The organization, led by Republican fundraiser and organizer Kathy Sarris, has been perceived by some in the community as delaying, rather than hastening, pro-LGBT state legislation. This may be prompted in part by rumors of board infighting and financial mis-management. Several organizations, including, among others, HRC, PFLAG, and Tri-State Alliance have either pulled out of the coalition altogether or stopped sending representatives to board meetings.

Other national and state organizations quickly distanced themselves from Indiana Equality (IE). Asked for comment, no other LGBT rights organization would stand with the group's position and some actively condemned Indiana Equality outright.

Reactions from other LGBT organizations were swift and decisive. National organizations joined with state-level groups in supporting a fully-inclusive ENDA and suggesting that Indiana Equality's new position was entirely wrong. Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Brad Luna noted that no representative of the national organization sits on the Indiana Equality or Indiana Equality Action boards.

"No one officially representing HRC is on the board or voted on this measure," said Luna.

"HRC supports a fully inclusive ENDA. Currently, it is legal to fire gay and lesbian employees in 30 states and transgender employees in 38 states. Although it is important that states continue individually to move legislation to protect their LGBT workforces from employment discrimination, we believe that a federal law is a necessity to the welfare of all LGBT workers across the country," according to Luna. "A fully inclusive ENDA remains a top priority of the LGBT community, including the Human Rights Campaign."

Indiana Stonewall Democrats president Doug Meagher quickly pointed out the political realities of making such a statement.

"As a politically partisan organization, the Stonewall Democrats want to make certain that we don't undermine the many elected officials in our Party who have endorsed ENDA; some of their own volition and others in response to requests from our community leaders. So, if the proposed dialogue leads to a general strategic shift, it would be wise to have our elected friends of all political persuasions participating in that dialogue and supportive of any redirected efforts," he said.

Jon Hoadley, Executive Director of the national Stonewall Democrats went even further.

"Passing a fully inclusive piece of legislation not only will help guarantee protections for LGBT individuals throughout the country but also will show politicians that you can vote for our community and not have it be a political liability. The overwhelming majority of Americans support fully inclusive non-discrimination laws. When politicians can pass a law that makes people's lives better and they get political kudos instead of liability, it'll be easier to pass a pro-equality agenda at the federal, state and local levels," Hoadley told Bilerico Project.

No one knows how IE's stance will effect Indiana's Blue Dog democratic Congressmen Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill. Donnelly and Ellsworth recently voted against a hate crimes bill passed by the House of Representatives. Hill voted in favor of the legislation, but has been wishy-washy on favoring a fully inclusive ENDA that includes protections based on gender identity and expression.

Becky Dansky, Federal Legislative Director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund commented, "While each organization is free to make its own determination of what it supports and why, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund is advocating for an inclusive ENDA, as we have been for years. We and other organizations also have a long history of working on the many issues facing LGBT people through legislation, grassroots organizing and public education. We think advocating for an inclusive ENDA is the most effective strategy to provide employment protections for LGBT people."

Speaking on behalf of the Equality Federation, an umbrella organization of state equality groups of which IE is a member, Executive Director Toni Broaddus said, "Equality Federation continues to support a fully inclusive ENDA. We participate on the steering committee for United ENDA and will continue to do so. However, positions taken by Equality Federation do not necessarily reflect the views of all our member groups. We support, first and foremost, the right of each state group to articulate its own positions on issues of importance to the LGBT community."

Broaddus made clear, however, that personally she wasn't buying IE's argument that ENDA will "adversely affect" state efforts to pass non-discrimination protections around housing and public accommodations.

"In the states, we have often been able to pass far stronger bills than at the national level on a whole variety of issues, and I support all efforts to do that around lgbt issues in Indiana and elsewhere," she said. "Of course, in some states, we are not going to be able to pass employment laws for years and years, and federal legislation will help protect many LGBT people in those states who would otherwise not have protections. It is certainly not a perfect bill, but it will provide employment protections for hundreds of thousands of people. If ENDA does pass, I don't think it will stop state efforts - just as federal civil rights legislation did not stop the passage of state civil rights legislation around race, sex, religion, etc. at the state level."

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, expressed her confusion at IE's controversial decision, "If you're in Washington or read the papers you know getting even little bits done now is still a real struggle. I don't know what this 'opportunity' is they're talking about. They just don't say what it is. Maybe they've talked with the entire Congress or something... I don't see this as an opportunity to get everything done all at once."

"They've done wonderful work on other stuff. They've been helpful with ENDA until now, so this is a mystery," Keisling continued. "I don't know what this means, but I generally think any grassroots impulse is good and should be let run it's course. This is one I simply don't get though. I simply do not understand what they mean by comparing ENDA to segregation."

"We're gearing up for the intro of ENDA. We're focused on getting our heads down to work. We hope IE will be there with us. I hope they're not going to sit on the sidelines while we get actual legislation passed."

In a written statement provided to Bilerico Project, Sarris and IE Chair Jon Keep said that the org hasn't made a decision on whether or not to leave the United ENDA coalition. "We have made no formal decision on Indiana Equality's participation in United ENDA but we fully support inclusion of gender identity/expression in any LGBT legislation, whether at a local, state, or national level," the response read.

Keisling refused to speculate on whether or not Indiana Equality would be asked to leave the United ENDA coalition. "That's not my decision," she said.

Indiana Equality Statement on LGBT Civil Rights Protections

May 16. 2009

Indiana Equality believes that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities should be engaged in a national dialog about the need for full inclusion in the federal Civil Rights code. There is a window of opportunity now that may not come for another generation. If we push for less than full inclusion, it may be more difficult to motivate public support for full civil right protections. We should not ask for less than we need.

Anything less than full inclusion is unacceptable. Accordingly, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (END) as currently proposed, cannot be accepted, supported or promoted by Indiana Equality.

It has become evident that adding LGBT persons to local and state civil rights laws is not only possible but crucial. Adding only the right to employment at the Federal level will do little to protect the civil rights of all citizens.

It is the beginning of a new era, and many state organizations have proven that 'better' is attainable. Just as the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for full civil rights inclusion, LGBT persons must expect full protections and rights.

A Realistic View of ENDA

Clearly, ENDA doesn't make us equal - rather, it creates a new form of segregation. It does not provide protections in housing and public accommodations. There are no protections for LGBT children in the public schools where administrators continue to turn a blind eye to harassment and brutality. With ENDA, we are only marginally protected in the workplace.

LGBT citizens have a unique opportunity today to secure full civil rights protections. Thus, Indiana Equality believes that:

  • State level efforts to have fully inclusive civil rights language added to state codes could be adversely affected if ENDA, as currently proposed, was to be enacted
  • Incrementalism on civil rights has rarely succeeded
  • LGBT people are de facto second-class citizens, but a bill to secure only one civil right for us would treat us, de jure, as different from any other minority--and effectively second class
  • We now have an unprecedented opportunity to push for full civil equality, protecting our individual liberties and our families in the areas of employment, housing, education, and public accommodations
  • Creating a separate coverage for sexual orientation and gender identity/expression sends the message that these classifications are somehow less worthy than others of protection and support

Indiana Equality urges a national discussion regarding of the need for full inclusion in the federal Civil Rights Act. What we need is what we should seek.

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That's in line with the Dallas Principles, but the wording is inflammatory, and the strategy is somewhat interesting.

While I agree that it is not enough, ENDA represents to me, personally, the single greatest and most important LGBT or QM piece of legislation ever, provided it is indeed fully inclusive. So I, personally, cannot join in with that particular viewpoint.

The claim that it will create segregation appears absurdist, but there may be some aspect of such going on there, although I doubt it.

This is a very strange stance to take, opposing the bill on the grounds it doesn't do enough, but not unheard of, and this applies to the bill its all about.

I will say, though, that I do support their *ability* to stand apart, to run with a different crowd, on the way to the same goal.

Its another fire, and I like it when I see more.

It is an emasculated protections bill. The people likely to discriminate against us all, and the reasons that they would use to discriminate against us, are protected in the act, instead of us being universally protected.

The acceptability of various homophobic and transphobic prejudices are encoded into law in this act.

Dallas Principles, full citizenship, complete equality for ALL>

I think democrats such as US Congressman Brad Ellsworth will listen to his constituents in Evansville, Vincennes and Terre Haute rather than the Indy-based IE.

I've been saying for quite some time that ENDA is half a loaf.

Why not demand it all?.....full civil rights across the board? Incrementalism got us DADT and that sure isn't as popular today as it was when it was "the best we can do".

Stonewall 2.0.....who's gonna throw the first shoe? It's past time, it's the best moment right now....Obama could have given us the scrap he's giving tonight from day one and chose not to. Wake up people, he's a politician, he wants control of the message back, time to make him pay up ALL the promises first.

IE says they are doing this because they want a more comprehensive civil rights bill. Fine. Let’s begin laying the groundwork for a more comprehensive bill now and maybe we’ll get one in the next five or ten years. But let’s not, in the meantime, cap the knees on an important piece of legislation that lawmakers are prepared to vote on this year!

Don't pay attention to the news much do you?

None of our issues are on the legislative agenda right now....they won't be unless we force them HARD.

We didn't pick the battleground but the battle is now engaged. Desert and you are a traitor, refuse to fight and you give up the right to push your own agenda.

We have a battleground that spans GLBT rights, it's a Constitutional issue. DOMA is unconstitutional beyond any argument now that six states have same sex marriage...Obama has been forced to address this right now, tonight. He'll spin his golden tongue and some of you will fall for it....don't.

This is one of the golden moments in history and if we press we will win. If we cave, the dems will make their promises year after year in the future and never actually deliver on anything.

Stonewall 2.0 now. Deeds not words NOW.

stonewall+40 | June 17, 2009 11:44 AM

Bil, how do we know that this bill is close to passage? It seems like HRC and all of these national groups constantly promise that we're at the brink in every fundraising mailer, but we've seen like NO progress on DADT, ENDA, or DOMA. In fact, it almost feels like we're slipping backwards.

Here are several things to consider:

1. ENDA does not cover other important protections that people usually associate together with employment: public accommodations, housing, and credit (financing). They are in our minds because of are part of civil rights legislation.

2. Even a trans-inclusive ENDA will be separate legislation from the civil rights protections for employment (and other areas). Although I am not a lawyer, I have discussed it with attorneys experts in employment and this has significant consequences. Separate legislation does not make us equal.

3. The different versions of ENDA proposed in the last Congress offer significant exemptions for religious organizations and small organizations. These exemptions go beyond the exemptions that apply to groups protected under civil rights legislation.

4. ENDA is less encompassing than legislation presented in 1974-75. Under the promise of getting something, that legislation has been watered down year after year. Thirty-five years later, we have nothing, despite all the efforts at de-crementalism.

For all of the reasons above, I believe that Indiana Equality has shown tremendous vision, leadership, and courage in pointing out that ENDA is not enough, nor appropriate (since it is a separate statue).

So, in my personal opinion, the issue is not whether Indiana Equality is right about ENDA not being enough. They are right. The real discussion is whether we take a little bit now (i.e., a trans inclusive ENDA) or fight for more (i.e., an expansion of the civil rights legislation).

A point that some people bring up against expanding civil rights legislation is that it is problematic. In fact, this legislation has been expanded multiple times.

As we all know, the movement went through the discussion about getting something now vs. waiting for a full inclusive ENDA in 2007 and 2008. I think that it is safe to say that we have reached a clear consensus that we are not leaving anyone behind and that we will all support only a trans inclusive ENDA. We know that our will will be tested in the Senate, where it seems, we may not have enough votes.

Then the question is not about Indiana Equality, but is about do we ask for full civil rights or we take a watered down ENDA (but trans inclusive)? This is an important discussion that we should all have.

Here are some points of reference in that discussion.

First, as a co-author of The Dallas Principles (, here is Principle #3: "ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY: Every LGBT person has the right to economic opportunity free from discrimination in employment, public housing, accommodation, public facilities, credit, and federally funded programs and activities."

Second, there is already a grass-roots movement, The Power Online, asking for signatures to be delivered to Nancy Pelosi at the end of the month. The petition says: "To expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and all its subsequent revisions and codifications to declare it the public policy of the United States that discrimination based on LGBT status is prohibited."

I invite you to sign that petition at whether you will settle for an inclusive ENDA or you want to raise the bar to the rights we really deserve, just like everybody else. No more, no less.


Juan Ahonen-Jover


Thank you for setting out the points in favor of Indiana Equality's position.

Respectfully, as an attorney, your points don't add up. They appear to me to be ill-informed, though I am open to a robust discussion. Perhaps I have misunderstood. However, clarification is needed. Here's my problem with your points.

1. This is legislation about employment rights. Housing and credit and whatnot are not associated with employment or employment rights. Historically, the broader civil rights community has not been willing to open up the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to add in other protected groups because there is a significant danger that other amendments would be demanded that are deleterious to currently protected groups.

2. There are no legal consequences to ENDA being created as a separate section of the Federal Code. In fact, most new laws are included in new sections. I'd like to know what these attorneys said were the consequences. There are no such consequences.

3. When the Civil Rights Act was passed, it included exemptions for small businesses, which were changed over time. This is no different. The religious exemption is not troubling because current civil rights law already contains an Bona Fide Occupational Qualification exemption that applies to churches and religious organizations. There is also a potential First Amendment issue, not yet ruled upon by the Supreme Court, and such a ruling should be avoided because it is very, very risky.

4. Your point 4 is a repetition of point 1.

I also note that ENDA is not a "statue."

How many signatures are on The Power Online petition? Who is prepared to submit and co-sponsor such legislation, and how many are prepared to support it in Congress? You don't know the answers to these questions, and neither do I. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this appears to be pie in the sky.

I call upon you and others to join Inclusive ENDA, our Facebook group with 2500 members, who have already received positive responses from a dozen legislators. We are setting up meetings with undecided legislators and changing votes. That's the way to accomplish something.

Here's the link to the Facebook group:


Jillian T. Weiss
Co-Chair, Inclusive ENDA
Associate Professor of Law and Society
Ramapo College

ENDA was originally a full civil rights no longer is more than a mere shell of it's former self.

It is a half a loaf at best.

It is not even on the legislative agenda, see Harry Reid (see Harry run)

We have the golden moment to put pressure on the Obama regime, a moment that comes along once in a lifetime. Don't be part of the problem, be part of the solution. You trans identified people need to understand this is also your issue.


I will let attorneys respond to attorneys on the legal points.

My organization, eQualityGiving, was among the first to support full inclusive ENDA in 2007.

In 2009, we can ask, and receive, full legal equality.

BTW. I do expect that full civil rights legislation will be introduced in Congress this year.


Karen Doering | June 17, 2009 3:57 PM

I am a civil rights attorney with extensive experience in both private practice and working for a national LGBT organization. I am also the primary drafter of eQualityGiving's Omnibus Civil Rights Bill. Like many attorneys out there, I had not realized how weak, watered down and truly unequal ENDA had become until Juan asked me to take a shot at drafting a bill that would demonstrate what full equality might look like.

In a nutshell, the largest, most significant flaws are that ENDA does not permit disparate impact claims, explicitly exempts businesses from having to provide equal benefits for LGBT employees, and contains a religious exemption that is so broad you can drive a truck through it.

Unlike other categories that have been added to existing civil rights laws - ON AN EQUAL BASIS - through separate legislation, ENDA is significantly weaker than existing employment discrimination laws. Unlike other protected categories who were able to successfully argue that there was an unequivocal legislative intent to provide the same legal protections as those found in Title VII, LGBT people will be unlikely to successfully make the same argument. Which means there is a very good chance the deep body of employment discrimination case law that has developed in the decades since President Johnson's courageous stand in 1964 will not apply to ENDA, which was clearly designed to be a weaker law that applies in a narrower context. The maxim that Title VII is a broad remedial statute to be liberally construed will likely NOT apply to ENDA.

ENDA's best case scenario is that courts will ultimately interpret the portions of ENDA that are comparable to existing laws in the same manner. But I predict it will be a very long, very difficult fight to get there. Which means the private bar will likely stay away from these cases until the law shakes out - which means LGBT legal groups will be forced to continue expending valuable staff time and resources in an effort to make sure ENDA has at least some teeth.

I strongly reject the false premise that we can't amend existing civil rights laws based on red herring arguments about possible harmful amendments being attached (really? In this political climate with Dems in control with a 60 vote majority and Obama as Pres?) or that our allies won't support it. Has it occurred to anyone to call the question and ask our allies what part of equality we don't deserve? If it's too risky to ask for full equality in this climate, what level of risk are our allies willing to take to allow us into their inner circle of equality? I understand that this would require vision, leadership and a willingness to stop blindly following the status quo.

Having said all this, I am not optimistic that the Democratic party or our leading LGBT organizations have the will or the courage to boldly demand equality at this stage in the game. After all, we've spent the last decade scraping for crumbs and now that we have succeeded in changing the political landscape, we still haven't recovered from our years spent begging for crumbs. All we seem to be willing to ask for is a slice or two of bread because that's all we believe is possible. And that is very, very sad. Can you imagine if the civil rights hero's of the 50's and 60's had played such a small game?

Personally, I believe that anything is possible and with bold leadership, bold demands and united front from the lgbt community, Obama would become the bold leader we all know he is capable of being. But, alas, we are paralyzed by our desperation for a victory, any victory, and I fear our short-sided cautious approach will leave us with separate and unequal protections for years to come.

Karen Doering

Karen, I have great respect for your opinion given your legal expertise in this area, and all that you have done for the trans community.

At the same time, I do not understand.

As far as the religious exemption, I wonder why you say it is broader than the one in Title VII.

Here is the text of that exemption from the 2007 legislation as passed by the House: This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 pursuant to section 702(a) or 703(e)(2) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a); 2000e-2(e)(2)).

See, it says it's as broad as the exemption in Title VII. What am I missing?

Re the disparate impact claims, I'm not so concerned. Those claims are difficult and very expensive to litigate because they involve situations where there is no open discrimination, but some action or rule of the workplace imposes a greater burden on a protected group more than all others. Expert witnesses are often needed to demonstrate the statistical implications. I note that, in the context of gender identity, and, I daresay, sexual orientation, identification of the relevant group is confusing, as in the Schroer and Creed opinions, and may or may not be helpful to gay and transgender employees.

Re your point that Title VII precedent won't apply, I'm not so sure. Section 10(b) of the 2007 bill says the procedures and remedies applicable to a claim alleged by an individual for a violation are to be the same as title VII. I will have to wait and see whether the 2008 bill has something similar.

Regarding your point that ENDA will not be seen as a remedial statute to be liberally construed, I don't understand. Since when has any civil rights statute been seen as non-remedial? It is my assumption that the maxim of statutory interpretation that broadly construes remedial statutes will apply to ENDA as much as any other civil rights statute seeing to remedy discrimination.

In addition, given the tendency of conservative judges to use textualism and other restrictive judicial philosophies to avoid broad interpretation of remedial statutes such as Title VII, I'm not sure that ENDA is any more vulnerable. Law professors writing in law reviews tend to agree that Title VII has been severely narrowed by the judiciary over the past 40 years. And let's not get into how useless the Equal Pay Act has been.

I completely agree with your view regarding the climate of the Democratic party and the leading LGBT organizations - the political will to boldly demand equality is missing.

As someone who has suffered discrimination, humiliation, social ostracism and physical danger because of my identity, I am willing, if not eager, to light a candle rather than to curse the darkness.

Karen Doering | June 18, 2009 8:13 AM

Dr. Weiss, the respect is very mutual.

The religious exemption I am referring to is the one in bill as it was introduced in 2007 – the version that was signed off on by all of the LGBT orgs and Barney Frank. The exemption says:

(a) In General- This Act shall not apply to any of the employment practices of a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society which has as its primary purpose religious ritual or worship or the teaching or spreading of religious doctrine or belief.
(b) Certain Employees- For any religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society that is not wholly exempt under subsection (a), this Act shall not apply with respect to the employment of individuals whose primary duties consist of teaching or spreading religious doctrine or belief, religious governance, supervision of a religious order, supervision of persons teaching or spreading religious doctrine or belief, or supervision or participation in religious ritual or worship.
(c) Conformity to Religious Tenets- Under this Act, a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society may require that applicants for, and employees in, similar positions conform to those religious tenets that such corporation, association, institution, or society declares significant. Under this Act, such a declaration by a religious corporation, association, educational institution or society stating which of its religious tenets are significant shall not be subject to judicial or administrative review. Any such declaration made for purposes of this Act shall be admissible only for proceedings under this Act.

I would love to believe that the 2008 version of the bill will pass into law with the religious exemption passed by the House in 2007. However, I am not at all confident that is the direction we’re heading. With all of the talk about not having the votes for a fully inclusive bill, worry that the blue dog dems will not sign on, the need to get republicans on board, etc., we’re already being set up for the “obvious” compromise to go back to the awful exemption. While I remain hopeful that our legislative leaders will not go down this path, I have not seen any sign from the Democratic leadership that they will stand strong on this (or any other) issue. Further, I am not even convinced that the LGBT organizations realize how bad this exemption really is. I do not think being silent and taking a wait and see approach will serve us well on this point. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong on this point, but unless and until ENDA makes it through both houses of the legislature without the awful exemption that the LGBT organizations signed off on in 2007, I will continue to do everything in my power to educate folks about how bad this language is. Otherwise, I fear our silence will be our undoing.

As for your comments about disparate impact claims being difficult to bring, requiring experts, etc., I agree. There will not be a lot of disparate impact claims brought regardless of whether or not they are permitted. However, having spent roughly half my career investigating and successfully litigating class action lawsuits that included disparate impact claims, I know that there are law firms out there who know how to successfully bring these claims. And I also know that successful impact litigation based on disparate impact theories are the types of cases that cause paradigm shifts and change industries. To go along with eliminating our ability to bring this type of claim based on the assumption that they’re “too hard to bring” erases one of our most powerful tools for bringing about meaningful systemic change in a short period of time. The most obvious (and easiest to prove) disparate impact claim would be against businesses that offer spousal benefits, but deny them to gay and lesbian employees who are legally prohibited from getting married (in states that do not permit or recognize same-sex marriage). This argument and would not require statistics regarding the number of gay employees, etc. And it would be relatively easy to disprove the “financial hardship” red herring that gets thrown out there every time these issues are raised because there is now an abundance of evidence that the actual economic impact on a company is minimal – typically in the 1-3% range. (Which is why from my perspective, the most dangerous and most offensive argument made in the Obama DOJ DOMA brief is the ‘preserve financial resources’ as a rational basis for discrimination argument. It has superficial appeal that folks latch onto without even investigating whether or not it is true.) Unfortunately, between the explicit exemption allowing employers to engage in this sort of disparate treatment and the provision in ENDA disallowing disparate impact claims, equal pay for equal work will remain a pipe dream for many LGBT people even if ENDA passes. k

Karen M. Doering

On Bunker Hill day, as someone with that part of my personal family history, I proudly signed your petition and support it fully.

stonewall+40 | June 17, 2009 11:49 AM

The Dallas Principles sound like something we could all get behind.

Housing and public accommodations would be great. But I don't understand why this is being done now, not last month or last year or the last time ENDA was introduced in Congress. I also don't understand why the focus is on "defeat ENDA" rather than "improve ENDA" or "amend ENDA" or "introduce a bill covering the areas ENDA missed". (This isn't like the "trans inclusion" thing, where if we don't include everyone at first the chance to go back and add people later will be lost forever. A housing discrimination bill, say, would potentially be even easier to pass than ENDA.)

There's a lot of people running around right now claiming to oppose half measures, but all I see is people opposing expansions of my civil rights because they'd prefer ideological purity.

Is it too late to introduce companion bills to ENDA that cover housing and public accommodations? Can someone introduce HONDA (Housing Non Discrimination Act) and PANDA (Public Accommodations Non Discrimination Act) to be considered separately but concurrently with ENDA? This strategy would allow separate votes on the issues which would give our congress critters the freedom to make choices between them and will show us who we need to work on regarding these issues, or against, based on their vote.

I think asking for it all is a good idea but only if it's not all in one package.


Screw going piecemeal and dying the death of a thousand cuts. Even Barney is on the run right now.

The dems have shamelessly used us for more than thirty years and never delivered on ANYTHING.

Polite women never make history, this bitch is pissed and wants revolution.

When in the course of human events.....sound familiar? Are we citizens or not?

Vivian Benge | June 17, 2009 1:01 PM

The Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) supports the position Indiana Equality (IE) and Indiana Equality Action (IE Action) are taking on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). INTRAA feels it is clear that ENDA would provide little protection for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Therefore, I voted in favor of stating the case for a national debate about the need for full civil rights protections for citizens who are LGBT. INTRAA’s logic regarding this, generally, follows.

Under ENDA, a person’s employment status might be marginally protected while, when the news traveled, an insurance company could still decide to discriminate against her; a landlord could still kick a person out for simply being someone who lives her life as openly LGB or T; I could be denied the right to visit my spouse in hospital; you could be denied educational opportunity by a school official who decides I am too different for the educational system; a gay man’s parental and spousal rights could be challenged solely due to his gay/transgender status, and on and on.

Actually, in INTRAA’s view, the right to come out in the workplace, without other civil rights protections to help keep the social consequences of such an act under control, makes people who are lesbian, gay, bi or transgender more vulnerable. This we know and it has driven the fight for full civil rights in states across the nation.

Regarding the segregation issue, INTRAA believes that while a recognized group of people in our society has no civil rights protection, by virtue of their membership in that group, those people are being isolated from the larger society in a myriad of ways. That is a form of segregation and creates problems beyond employment rights. For example, I could easily be denied access to certain apartments or housing areas and might have to drive a much greater distance to hold down a job that ENDA would help me keep, after coming out as gay at work. That could make it harder to hold such a job.

Also, if a group that has no civil rights protections under a large swath of the rights other groups take for granted in their lives as US citizens, and is then handed one right, and one right only, it is clear that the group is being actively segregated by the society. Before that decision, it could be argued, the group being isolated and denied all available rights was only a victim of social negligence resulting in the discrimination: that the situation arose accidentally in society (through legal neglect fueled by ignorance and prejudice). After granting a single right to the group, it can only be clear that there is intent to discriminate. And while attempts to limit rights aren’t new, as we know from the anti-gay marriage movement, to help do it to ourselves would be unfortunate, in INTRAA’s view.

As a board member of the Indiana Equality Action coalition, I believe that neither INTRAA nor IE Action (nor IE) is advocating active opposition to ENDA – I personally would suppose ENDA to be slightly better than nothing, since it might have a positive legal effect, over a long period.

However, that doesn’t mean we should ignore the very large civil rights ‘pink elephant’ in the room, even if we have tried to do so for a long time. And we sure shouldn’t keep doing what we’re doing (only supporting ENDA) when it is clear that reaching that goal will be so deficient in restoring our interconnected civil rights, we will essentially have to start over again, anyway.
Relative to civil rights protections passed by the states, it is arguable whether ENDA would make things worse. While states are still free to have a better civil rights law on the books than what the federal statute provides, it could create a situation where state policy makers could argue that there is little need for them to provide full civil rights protections as the “feds” have already addressed our issues. As we know from hard experience, no excuse is too small to justify inaction.

Angela Brightfeather | June 17, 2009 1:23 PM

So we have gone from fighting for inclusion, to getting inclusion and now it's just not good enough if it ONLY protects our jobs. Your right, your a rebel, but to bad your not one with enough common sense to fill a salt shaker.

There is a limit to even how long I can put up with pretenders. If you really want to make your point, grab a chain, a padlock, a sign that says "Improve ENDA or forget ENDA" and go chain yourself to the pillars of Congress in DC. Now that might get my attention, but your drum rolls to action isn't going to cut it with anyone, especially if you want us to abandon the best thing that has happened for us in 40 years to help us stand on our own and fight in the future.

Excuse me but aren't you a male identified married heterosexual crossdresser who owns their own business?

In this exciting moment in time when the entire brass ring might even be within reach you are showing your cis-het-privilege.

I'm a bisexual Pagan woman of trans history and for the record, I oppose your position on this totally. ENDA isn't even on the agenda, there is only vague promises it will even be trans inclusive, it has more religious exemption holes than a block of swish cheese and is a pathetic begging bill at this point to boot.

Polite women don't make history....this bitch is loaded for bear....for ALL of the LGBts.

stonewall+40 | June 17, 2009 1:55 PM

Angela - what chance does ENDA stand to pass this year? If not, why not amend it to make it fully inclusive? Let's add just a few words to the full Civil Rights Act (sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.) Seems simple enough to me.

Donna Pandori Donna Pandori | June 17, 2009 3:24 PM

Geez, all this bickering back and forth.

For Pete's sake pass something, anything already.

stonewall+40 | June 17, 2009 5:46 PM

We've been waiting for 30 years for them to "Pass something, anything already." Why not ask for what we really want then?

The current ENDA supporters are not even beginning to talk about the Senate. So we get this through the House, and stall = epic fail. We get Matthew Shepard through the Senate (if Reid is not to pussy to do it) and then maybe through the House with no Rep support.

In the end, we'll be lucky to get ONE initiative this summer. Which is more likely?

I'm betting Matthew Shepard.

Great leaders do not wait for encouragement from the masses to spur them to action. That's what leadership means- you lead. If Obama needs a pat on the head to be bold, that tells you who he really is. Character is a constant, it doesn't fluctuate with poll numbers.

What is the content of Obama's character?

Angela Brightfeather | June 18, 2009 8:32 AM

"Excuse me but aren't you a male identified married heterosexual crossdresser who owns their own business?"

I guess that shows where your coming from, but you forgot to change that to Transexual (not that it really makes that much difference for those who are not members of the HBS). But no, I am not a crossdresser and never have been since 3 years old. The fact that I own my own business means very little except when it comes to being able to contribute to our causes with something besides my opinion.

"Polite women don't make history....this bitch is loaded for bear....for ALL of the LGBts."

No comment.

Angela Brightfeather | June 18, 2009 8:48 AM

"Angela - what chance does ENDA stand to pass this year? If not, why not amend it to make it fully inclusive? Let's add just a few words to the full Civil Rights Act (sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.) Seems simple enough to me."

Stonewall, I think that the fact that ENDA is going to be reintroduced by Frank this week or next, provides us very little time to do everything that has to be done to get anything passed, let alone change it.

I guess I am having a hard time understanding where all these opinions about the flaws are coming from at the last minute, while this has been aired and disputed over the last 18 months, to say nothing of the 15 years before that.

I think that if you want it changed, then there may be an opportunity when it is in committee and that I can support. I'll support anything to make it better. What I really have a hard time doing is shoving changes down people's throats when the opportunity existed for 18 months to do it and the people who are making the most noise were sitting on their hands. Of course it makes sense to get more, but does it also make sense to do it in such a way that it might endanger the legislation as it exists now? If you let the opposition even sense a problem like this, they will make the most of it at this point.