Alex Blaze

John Berry says ENDA is first

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 29, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Congress, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, ENDA, gay marriage, gays in the military, john berry, legislation, LGBT, same-sex marriage, workplace discrimination

OPM director John Berry talked a bit about LGBT legislation coming up, and he's saying that ENDA is first thing that'll have to pass:

"The most important thing we can do right now is we got to ... secure the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act -- and it's got to include full transgender protections," Berry said. "I believe that if we all concentrate our efforts where it needs to be concentrated, which is on the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, we can get the job done."

Other pro-LGBT legislation can be more easily achieved, Berry said, if Congress were to pass ENDA.

"If we can get ENDA enacted and signed into law, it is only a matter of time before all the rest happens," he said. "It is the keystone that holds up the whole bunch, and so we need to focus our energies and attention there."

It's what lots of us have been saying for a while - if we can't get a basic statement out of the Congress that says that we can't be fired for being who we are, then DOMA repeal, federal civil union recognition, etc., aren't going to be forth-coming. If we're a constituency that can't keep its eyes on the ball and get the work done where it needs to get done, then don't expect these folks to stick their necks out on harder issues like DOMA repeal.

But I do wonder who that "we" is referring to. LGBT people have been working on ENDA (have you written your House Rep. and Senators about ENDA? If not, what are you waiting for?), but will the Administration?

I'm guessing no, and "we" means "LGBT people," not "the White House." Berry goes on to praise Obama "for being 'clearly on the record' in support of ENDA," which is nice, but it looks like that's all we're going to get from the White House when it comes to passing this bill through Congress. There really hasn't been any indication that do something to make sure he'll have an opportunity to sign the bill, but he will if it makes it to his desk.

As for DADT repeal, Berry says the votes aren't there yet in Congress, but that Robert Gates has "an open mind." On DOMA, he says the "backbone" just isn't there in Congress, so we should have more hope in courts overturning that law.

He's probably right about DOMA and backbone - I wouldn't be at all surprised if more than half of Congress is afraid of being labeled "pro gay marriage." And considering that the military brass thinks it calls the shots when it comes to anything that involves them (even if that pesky Constitution that they swore to uphold says Congress, then the President, have power over the military), DADT will probably be slow coming.

There ya go.

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I've given up on relying on ANY White House to do ANYTHING for us. We have to do it for ourselves. We have to push Congress to see this as integral, and to see it as their legacy. They could look back 40 years from now and say "My hand shook when I did it, but I stood up and I defended Equality." And if they won't, we Rick Santorum them. Dr. Jillian Weiss is very wise to be collecting this data on ENDA for us... it will become VERY handy in 2010 when everyone is looking for money, staff, volunteers and votes.

We have to put pressure on OTHER LGBT people to hold their elected officials accountable for how they vote or DON'T vote... I'm sorry, but you can't win a campaign with out at least one queer. If the LGBT community realized the power they yield in elections, this would be over in one term.

That isn't to say vote for the Republican... just help the OTHER Democrat (or valid third party candidate) who WILL go on record for us give them a run for their money.

...And if the Republican IS in favor of LGBT equality, check 'em for your other issues. Chances are if they're pro-ENDA, they might also be pro-Health Care, pro-choice and anti-war... you might end up linking up on more issues than you think.

Agreed, mostly. There isn't a single Republican that's in favor of health care reform, and a couple Democrats are wavering. That they hold a party line on, you know?

But, yeah, there has to be more accountability. A vote will be coming on the ENDA, and we'll likely win in the House, but then it comes to the Senate. Apparently Lincoln doesn't like us too much, and I wouldn't be surprised if a few other Democrats falter there as well. It'd be nice if someone actually forced them to filibuster, though, since it's such a popular issue and I'd love the press coverage.

I have something from the State of Arkansas. This is such a backward state, to many people with their heads up their ***.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (S. 1584) which would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. However, equal rights should not become special rights, and I appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts with me on this important issue. You can be sure I will remember the concerns you raised if this or similar legislation is considered in the U.S. Senate..... " As says the privileged Old South Democrat!" And this Democrat Senator votes with the Republicans on Health Care.

Rep. John Boozman 3rd District, Arkansas,

I support equal justice for all. That's why I oppose this legislation as do the vast majority of my Constituents. While we may not see eye to eye completely on this issue, please be assured that if the ENDA is voted on in the HoR, I will keep your thoughts in mind..... "As says the Neo-Con Republican"

Sad but true, I feel represented by bigots!

Ugh. Lincoln. Just after she voted against the PO in committee yesterday.

Still, in the Senate, what would be good is if people like her vote for cloture but then vote against the bill. I mean, it could pass that way with the half-way support of people like her.

As for Boozman, how does he know the "majority of my constituents" don't favor the legislation? Does he have better polling data than Gallup ever conducted? Considering how much that's become an excuse (often disproven later with real polling data, although I doubt that'll be forthcoming on ENDA), I'll just roll my eyes and take it as a term of art.

But you wrote them! Still needed to be done, even if that's the response you get.

Personally, I agree with Berry that ENDA should be the #1 priority. But I wonder why we can't get hate crimes first since it's already passed the House and has the votes in the Senate. It just needs passed and sent on for a signature. Why can't we wrap that one up since we started it months ago?