Guest Blogger

Rep. Andre Carson: Doing Things the American Way

Filed By Guest Blogger | December 09, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Andre Carson, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, gay rights, House of Representatives, Indiana, LGBT rights

Editors' Note: Representative Andre Carson is today's guest blogger. Congressman Carson is a Democrat who represents the Indianapolis area. He is a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) legislation currently waiting for mark-up in a House committee.

carson headshot - 2009 - small.jpgWe all know the struggles workers across this nation are going through with thousands every day being let go from their jobs because of a tough economy. I have every confidence that the steps Congress and the President have taken to re-fuel our economic engine are working, and though we still have a ways to go, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

But if the status quo remains, even as our economy gets back on track, thousands of people next year will continue to be shown the door at their place of employment. Their departure will have nothing to do with declining revenues or job performance, but rather everything to do with their lives.

In the majority of states within our union, encompassing our great nation founded on the principles of equality, justice and liberty, you can still be fired from a job--or not hired for one--because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.

For a nation that prides itself on a "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" mentality, believing wholeheartedly in the notion that success is determined by our work ethic and drive to want it more than the other guy (or gal), the fact that people can be dismissed off-hand because they're dating someone of the same sex seems not only unfair--but also un-American.

Despite this fact, it's been an uphill battle to change federal law to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination in the workplace. My sincere hope is that the 111th Congress can finally change this by sending the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)--a bill for which I am a co-sponsor--to the desk of President Barack Obama.

Introduced in various forms during every congressional session since the late-1990s, ENDA would prohibit discrimination based on an individual's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by employers. The goal of the legislation is simple: to address the history and widespread pattern of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers and further provide for effective remedies for such discrimination.

Critics assert that this bill would give special privileges to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. Of course this argument is false. This legislation is not about special rights, it's about equal rights.

We already have civil rights laws protecting against discrimination based on race, religion, gender, disability and national origin. This bill would simply put LGBT Americans on the same footing as everyone else, resulting in a fundamental fairness that rewards no one, but offers opportunity to everyone.

The American people understand this. A number of public polls show Americans weighing-in with heavy majorities saying that gays and lesbians should have equal rights in the workplace. Also, many of our top corporations have recognized the societal and economic benefits to ensuring a level playing field for LGBT workers (the overwhelming majority of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their workplace nondiscrimination policies.) And in dozens of states, there are already laws on the books--similar to the provisions contained in ENDA--that protect the rights of LGBT workers.

All this is a sign of progress, and certainly signals the fact that Americans believe strongly in fundamental fairness in the workplace. But the fact remains that in the majority of states--including my home state of Indiana--it is still perfectly legal to fire someone because of they're dating someone of the same sex or because they personally identify themselves as the opposite sex. Job performance need not be considered.

The need for ENDA is evident. That's why we must seize the moment in order to accomplish what previous Congresses could not.

Mark-up of ENDA will begin in earnest next month, with the goal of bringing it to the House floor by the end of January. I know there has been some frustration by some in the LGBT community relating to the pace of this process--and taking into account the fact that this fight for equal protection under the law has gone on for decades, I understand the angst.

Please know that I am committed to supporting the passage of ENDA. And I know many colleagues of mine share this commitment. But we also have to ensure that after it becomes law, the language will pass legal muster (because it will undoubtedly come under fire in court). That's why the House Education and Labor Committee is focusing on crafting ENDA so that it will absolutely stand up in a court of law, ensuring that even the most conservative judges will not be able to thwart the law's intent to bring about fairness and protect against discrimination.

I remain confident that, at the end of the day, working together, we will prevail in ensuring ENDA becomes the law of the land. Because this bill is not just about doing things the fair and equal way--it's about doing things the American way.

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Thank you for guest posting, Congressman Carson. I'm proud to have you represent me and my family.

I think it's worth noting too that while Indiana now has more Democrats in the House than Republicans, you are the only Congressman from our state to show support for ENDA. All the other Dems are Blue Dogs who either don't support LGBT rights at all or who are "undecided." (And we all know that "maybe" usually means "no.") Our Senators, Richard Lugar (R) and Evan Bayh (D), have also disappointed Hoosier queers over ENDA. Lugar, who is usually a supporter of LGBT rights, has indicated he'd vote against the bill, while Bayh refuses to say how he'll vote.

Even our state equality group, Indiana Equality, opposes ENDA in a moronic stand that it "doesn't go far enough." (And which has forced other national and state groups to soundly rebuke them and distance themselves from the often controversial organization.) Sadly, the Blue Dogs are using IE's stance to justify their reluctance to support the bill.

I honor you for your willingness to do the right thing in the face of overwhelming difficulties thrown up by our fellow Democrats and self-appointed LGBT leaders.


Excellent post, Congressman Carson, and thank you. I only hope that your colleagues in Congress take your words to heart.

Congressman, you and your colleagues who are moving ENDA forward and fighting the good fight on our behalf are genuine heroes to this community. People like me may criticize the Democratic Party and it members when we believe it's deserved, but we also know that as long as the Party still numbers you and so many true progressives among its members, there's still hope. Above all, thank you for that, sir, helping to show us that it's possible that this time hope will prove to be more than just a convenient Presidential campaign slogan.

Congressman Carson is a Democrat who represents the Indianapolis area.

Let me clarify that Rep. Carson represents Indiana Congressional District 7, which covers most of Indianapolis, but not all of it.

Western portions of Indianapolis/Marion County are represented by Stephen Buyer(R-IN4); and northeast and southern sections are represented by Dan Burton(R-IN5).

Clearly, Indianapolis has been gerrymandered to separate the heavily African-American center of Indianapolis from the largely white, more affluent suburbs.

Oops! Forgot to include [this link to a map] of District 7 and Indiana's other districts.

(TYPO: On the target webpage, the caption under the state map says Indiana has seven districts, but it actually has nine, as indicated in the state map itself.)

Representative Carson, thank you for being a role model for civil rights in this country.

"Gerrymandered" is a misleading term here. There has always been "an Indianapolis District" but the city has now outgrown the population limit of a single Congressional District. The current District is rather compact and does not break up "communities of interest". The District is only about 30% African-American -- it was the very first majority-Caucasian District to elect an African-American to Congress. That was Julia Carson (André Carson's grandmother) back in 1996.

"Gerrymandered" is thrown into the mix to disparage the election achievement of Congressman Carson as if there was something illegitimate or unnatural about the area, as if in a "real American district" André couldn't be elected. He got 65% of the vote last November.

Wilson, please! ... Chill out! Chill out!

Wilson, you totally misunderstood me or my intentions. I had no intention of disparaging Rep. Carson in any way --- I simply thought it was a bit sloppy (sorry, Bilerico) to say that he represented the (entire) Indianapolis area.

Moreover, I did not say that District 7 was majority African-American, I merely said heavily African-American. I feel that wording is correct since District 7 is more highly African-American, by percentage of population, that any other Indiana district.

"Gerrymandered" is thrown into the mix to disparage the election achievement of Congressman Carson as if there was something illegitimate or unnatural about the area, as if in a "real American district" André couldn't be elected.

Wilson, on most issues I consider you an ally, but in this instance I do request that you not put words in my mouth. I did not intend to imply there was anything untoward about the way that Rep. Carson was elected --- but I did intend to point out to Bilerico readers out-of-state that the political base that got Rep. Carson elected is unique to central Indianapolis (that is, a similar population distribution does not occur anyway else within Indiana), but not unique when compared against other large American cities, particularly the "inner" cities.

The term "gerrymandered" may have negative connotations, but I'd like you to explain to me what the difference is between "gerrymandering" and a legislative intent not to "break up 'communities of interest'" as you put it. Whether it serves the American voting public well or for ill, I would say the process is the same.

I think your comment, Wilson, shows more than a bit of paranoia that is uncalled for. I vote in District 9, one reason being that Baron Hill needs my vote more than Andre Carson. However, I do own a residence in Rep. Carson's district, and had I voted in that district, I would have voted for Carson.

As for Mr. Perdue (below), I often disagree with his rants, often I don't even read them --- but Bil, I do not think it is at the point that he should be censored. Anyone who wants to skip over his lengthy posts (or mine) is free to do so.

In this case I'd have to agree. Carson is doing things the American Way, i.e., stealing other peoples natural resources, sending troops to invade and occupy other countries and to kill civilians and be killed and fronting for the looting class. He's is a classic liberal.

He says all the right things to all the right people but when push comes to shove he votes with the looter class and the military industrial complex.

Carson is simply lying when he says that “American efforts to capture and kill al Qaeda terrorists have greatly diminished” because of the oil war in Iraq and he makes the astonishing claim that the Taliban poses an imminent threat to the United States. US forces in Centcom's AFPAK front will soon number 98,000 US troops, plus 74,000 mercenaries and 47,000 non-US NATO troops for a total of 219,000 invader troops and 200,000 unreliable quisling security troops facing off against roughly 25,000 Taliban-Al Quaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Those are pretty bad odds (roughly 17 to 1) but the invaders haven't beaten them in a decade of fighting and they won't beat them with a surge. All they'll do is kill more civilians and send more young men flocking to the rightwing islamist Taliban and Al Qaida and put greater pressure on the Pakistani military nuclear units.

In his "A Greeting from the 19th Century to the 20th Century" Mark Twain wrote "I bring you the stately matron named Christendom, returning bedraggled, besmirched and dishonored from pirate-raids in Kiao-Chou, Manchuria, South Africa and the Philippines, with her soul full of meanness, her pocket full of boodle and her mouth full of pious hypocrisies. Give her the soap and a towel, but hide the looking-glass.", New York Herald Dec. 30, 1900

Americans in the 20th century showed the same disgust for the Vietnam War and in the 21st century we're beginning to turn on Democrats because to their four wars - Pakistan, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.

According toBusiness Week and the FEC, Carson, a member of the House Financial Services Committee got $10,000.00 from corporations being investigated by his committee for misuse of TARP funds, including paying out massive salaries and bonuses. Transphobic Committee Chairman Barney Frank, notorious for gutting ENDA to placate the Chamber of Commerce, received $63,250.00 from eight financial institutions, led by JP Morgan.

Hey Bill -

How about you get off the soapbox long enough to leave a comment that's on topic. While we're used to your usual anti-Democrat screeds, the topic is ENDA and not everything else you'd like to kvetch about. It's becoming wearisome to have to deal with your TOS violations every day. From now on, we'll be deleting off-topic comments from you; if you can't address what the author spent the time to write about, I see no reason why other Projectors should have to waste their time reading your long rants about the evils of the two-party system.

Hey Bil,

The topic is Carson. If censorship is your only alternative I'll just have to live with it. Democrats who read comments probably won't mind but others will.

All of the other comments mentioned Carson and his politics, which was the subject, and others mentioned gerrymandering, the number of House seats in Indiana and how much of Indianopolis is covered by District 7. But they weren't about Carsons Democrat-liberal politics so they were ok.

I understand that you don't like to be reminded that hope and change were a crock but it's very undemocratic to censor those who point it out.

I took sharp exception to the use of your word "gerrymandered" to describe Congressman André Carson's District. "Community of interest" is the technical term used by most electoral district reform advocates for "don't draw lines through neighborhoods so that voting strength is diluted". It's also the only Hoosier District that's less than 1% rural. The charge of "gerrymandered" is thrown around at the 7th District although it is the most sensible and good-government defensible district in Indiana.

The Indiana Secretary of State recently threw out some proposed "non-gerrymandered" Congressional Districts for the state. The 7th alone of all the current Districts was barely changed from its current boundaries.

Perhaps my selection of that term was not ideal, but let's return to my original statement, that you apparently took umbrage to:

Clearly, Indianapolis has been gerrymandered to separate the heavily African-American center of Indianapolis from the largely white, more affluent suburbs.

If we were to substitute the word "divided" for the word "gerrymandered", would you not concede that my original statement is true? If you do, then we have only to discuss whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. You seem to say it is a good thing --- and I would argue that it is bad only because it strengthens the base of a wingnut like Dan Burton.

william nolan | September 23, 2010 7:57 AM

September 23, 2010

I faxed this to everyone in the City-County building--all 70 or more offices. Because of this letter the Sheriffs Department wants to talk to me. I will meet with them Thursday September 23 at 9am in front of the City Market, where I held up protest signs for 17 days. My story began March 3, 2008 and was chronicled in the Indianapolis Star on May 28, 2009. I have been railroaded by my own government and now that I am speaking my mind they are trying to intimidate me. Well, I am not intimidated. Though I am unsure as to the real intent or outcome of this meeting, I am coming from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to be there. Even though they say not, I suspect that I will most likely be arrested --for exactly what I don’t know, but as I have already found out they can do whatever they want.

William Henry Nolan, Jr.

The Deliberate and Systematic Rape of William Henry Nolan Jr. by Judges, Lawyers and Law Enforcement of Indianapolis Indiana:

You took my freedom, and I did nothing. You took my home and again I did nothing. Now you’ve taken my “Pursuit of Happiness.” There is but one thing left for you to take.
Katrina was a wind storm compared to your onslaught. I never had a chance. Your two-pronged attack was calculating and decisive, but you made one mistake. You showed me “Quarter.” A mistake I won’t make.
The Law did not protect me from you. What makes you think it will protect you from me?

Being of Sound Mind and Without Fear,
William Henry Nolan Jr.