Jeremy Bishop

Introducing Fairness Works

Filed By Jeremy Bishop | July 02, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Employee Free Choice Act, Join The Impact, labor unions

Ifairnessworks.jpg was very happy to get a facebook invite yesterday for Join The Impact's newest campaign: Fairness Works.

Join The Impact is the grassroots organization that was able to, with zero money, mobilize millions of LGBT people to march in the streets to protest the passage of Proposition 8 last November, all through the power of the internet.

Now they are lifting up a campaign to knock-out job discrimination with a three pronged punch. Their campaign focuses energy on the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), and the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT).

On July 25th, in communities around the country, a grassroots army of people will be holding dream-ins, part mis-mash of events, part teach-in, part protest, part direct legislative lobbying, and part- testimony, to lift up voices of discrimination in our community and how ENDA and EFCA and the repeal of DADT can bring fairness for all workers.

For those in the community who have been using the rallying cry of "no more excuses" here is an excellent way to put our anger and energy to action.

As someone who believes we as a community will never achieve full equality without the help of labor, I was very happy to see that Join The Impact included passage of The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) as part of the must-have list for LGBT equality on the job.

The Employee Free Choice Act would make it easier for those who would like to join a union to be able to do so. Even if ENDA is passed, LGBT people will be far from equal under federal law. Labor unions provide LGBT people the opportunity to bargain for rights that the federal government refuses to offer. Everything from, inclusive FMLA leave, health care benefits, pension benefits, inclusive sick and bereavement leave, and anti-harassment language- unions have been negotiating for LGBT families for decades.

Kudos to Join The Impact for realizing that The Employee Free Choice Act is a critical piece of legislation for true LGBT equality on the job.

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I must admit I'm pleasantly surprised, because the Chicago chapter of JTI seems quite focused on marriage. Is this the nationwide JTI?

I, of course support EFCA and ENDA, and am glad to see a queer group connect the two. I'm iffier about DADT, given my position on war-mongering. I see the argument about how the army is an employer and unjustly expels people on account of their sexual orientation, but find it hard to throw myself behind folks who'd willingly go to war.

But I'm still pleasantly surprised about JTI supporting EFCA and ENDA - so thanks for this, Jeremy.


While I understand your point about war, I think that everyone is allowed their own choice in the matter and also feel that many of those who serve in the armed forces don't join as a willing choice to go to war. I originally come from a small town in Ohio where many days a week army recruiters took to our cafeteria and proceeded to tell my fellow students that the only way out was to join up. Many of my graduating class are now in Iraq because they were promised at extremely young ages that joining the Army was the only way to pay for school, and they were also told by these recruiters that the chances of going to war were slim at best. Now these people are stuck in Iraq but they made a commitment, and they are bravely sticking to it. If some of these friends of mine who are gay end up coming out of the closet, they will lose their pension AND the money that the Army has promised them to pay for school. Even though they are giving their lives for a college education, the Army would happily take that away from them simply because they are gay. Most of these people are against the war in Iraq completely, but they are for a college education. Many of these men and women are the first in their family to receive a college education, and the Army (or Marines) is what made that possible.

So while I understand that you are not for war, that doesn't mean that you don't have to be for these people who saw the Army, ROTC, or Marines as a chance at a better life. It is not their choice to go to war. When we are young, we think we are invincible. We think that we are luckier than anything or anyone. We never think that we'll end up with our lives on the line. And when our brave LGBTQ men and women put their lives on the line for this country, the least this country can do is protect them from discrimination in their workplace.

As a member of the Chicago chapter of Join the Impact (Join the Impact Chicago), I can assure you we focus on more issues than simply marriage equality.

In fact, along with other members of the group, I've just spent this week meeting with two ranking members of congress on ENDA. These meetings, in conjunction with our close work with the United ENDA Coalition and, specifically, National Center for Lesbian Rights, have helped to shore up support for the bill with the Illinois delegation. We plan on having meetings with at least four other Illinois members before the end of summer.

In addition, hundreds of brochures were just distributed at this past weekend's Pride Fest regarding ENDA specifically. I'd be happy to send one along to you, Yasmin, if you'd like. NCLR approved our copy.

JTIC looks forward to continuing our mission to further equality on all fronts, not just on the issue of marriage equality.

It would be great to see JTI-C do more than marriage equality. I notice you don't mention EFCA; are you working on that as well?

I'm very curious about the relationship between the "national" JTI and the regional ones.

And why does NCLR have to approve your copy? This is getting off the topic, but this reminds me that there have been issues about NCLR not giving enough autonomy to groups and wanting to direct their every move. If you're on Facebook, you've probably seen Sam Finkelstein's critique of these organizing tactics (full disclosure: Finkelstein and I are both part of GenderJUST).

I'd love to see a copy of your ENDA brochure. My e-mail is - I can send you my address from there, or you can attach it to your message. Thanks.

Well, this conversation adds a whole different dimension to all of this.

Ah, Jeremy, look what you started.

Ah, yes, Sam Finkelstein and I, in fact, were on the same conference call with NCLR just a few months ago regarding working together in Chicago for ENDA. I'm surprised he didn't let you know JTIC was part of that call.

EFCA is yet another focus we're quickly adding. One thing to remember: our board is small and we are working as hard as we can, while still trying to keep our day jobs afloat.

To clarify, NCLR doesn't have to approve anything of ours. The fact is they've been working very hard congressionally on ENDA and we wanted their advice.

I too am very excited about Fariness Works, in the interest of full disclosure, I am also one of the volunteers that helped put it together. To answer your question/concerns Yasmin, yes this is national. No, Join the Impact is not only marriage focused, and yes you can be anti-war but pro repeal of DADT. I certainly am.

I hope you all are inspired to help teach your friends, families, neighbors, and yes even strangers about these important bills.


I asked if this was a statement from the nationwide JTI - since I haven't seen this coming from the Chicago chapter, which does seem very focused on marriage. I live in Chicago. I'm assuming there's a difference between the national JTI and the various chapters, or am I wrong? Mine is a very simple question about structure.


You write:
"So while I understand that you are not for war, that doesn't mean that you don't have to be for these people who saw the Army, ROTC, or Marines as a chance at a better life. It is not their choice to go to war."

Well, that's exactly the problem - we have justified war as an economic solution. And that only makes the machinery of war even more corrupt and insidious. I, for one, have no desire to naturalise the idea that war is the only way out for poor people - straight or queer. I think queers in particular ought to resist this kind of logic, one that allows for a society where those who have are protected by those who don't have, in wars that no one asked for in the first place.

Yes, I'm aware we were on that call. That's exactly what I was alluding to, in terms of his critique.

And be that as it may, I'm all in support of both ENDA and EFCA, so I'll be interested to see how the issues pan out.