Alex Blaze

DC Agenda declares ENDA dead for the year

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 28, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barney Frank, ENDA, Senate, votes, Washington D.C.

It looks like some folks on the Hill think ENDA's dead for this Congress:

Breaking what some have called an informal code of silence adopted by mainline LGBT political organizations, at least four sources familiar with the gay and transgender civil rights bill said the lack of Senate votes became clear long before Republican Scott Brown won his upset victory last week in Massachusetts.

"What we're hearing is there is just no clear path to pass ENDA in the Senate," said one activist familiar with the bill's lobbying effort. "They don't think they have 60 votes to pass it."

Another source with ties to Capitol Hill and national LGBT political groups based in Washington was more definitive.

"ENDA has been off the agenda since before the Massachusetts election because they couldn't secure the votes in the Senate," the source told DC Agenda.

Well, if these insiders wanted to kill the issue, they're doing fine. Postpone it every couple of months, then tell people that it just can't pass. Hopefully people will just accept the fact that medium-sized businesses and corporations should be allowed to cleanse their staffs of queers every few years, just in case they feel like it.

They're blaming the gender identity protections:

Opposition to the gender identity provision, included to help protect transgender people, is among the contributing factors that's prevented supporters from lining up the needed 60 votes to break a filibuster, one of the sources said.

Infuriating, I know. Yet here we are, with US Senators opposing the economic advancement of a sector of the American population because they're worried about showers.

Of course, this is all from unnamed sources, and it should be taken with a grain of salt. Because of these unnamed sources, we don't know who these people are or why they're talking about this, allowing them to say whatever they want without having to accept any of the consequences for their words.

For example, we have no way of knowing if the one anonymous source who mentioned the gender identity protections as a problem was a huge transphobe who wants the gender identity protections removed from the bill, so they decided to create a 2007-esque split-the-baby situation. And before you tell me that's ridiculous, we all know that there are "political insiders" with "ties to[...] national LGBT political groups" who just plain don't like transgender people, and Congressional staffers play journalists all the time with anonymous quotes to gain a political upper hand in Congress. Besides, it's not like that theory can be proven wrong, since we have no idea who's saying what.

But we've known for a while that ENDA's in trouble in the Senate - Jillian Weiss's Senate numbers weren't a solid 60 all the way back in July 2009. The problem is that those numbers haven't changed.

One thing that'll help is increased lobbying, as well as getting earned media attention for ENDA since it polls better than just about every other piece of national LGBT legislation. Getting it through the House could also increase the change the Senate would take a vote on it. And, just because they don't have 60 yes votes for it, that doesn't mean that they can't get enough votes to break the filibuster and then lose a few Senators from more conservative states on the vote for the bill itself. It's happened before, like when Obama famously voted for cloture on Alito's confirmation and then voted against his confirmation.

It's interesting to me the universe LGBT people faced over the past few years: ENDA can't pass because it can't get a supermajority, while Prop 8 passed with 52% of the vote. All while LGB job protections have almost 90% of the public behind them. So many people support them that often people are surprised that we don't have federal job protections already.

Anyway, this Daily Show clip seems appropriate now:

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I posted this elsewhere, but I’ll post it here too because I think it’s important. There's no need to fold on this. Congress has several alternatives available. If they really care, they can use reconciliation, or tie ENDA to a budget in the House and Senate. They can add provisions to ENDA so that a wider range of lawmakers will support it. For example, they can strengthen protections for older people, veterans, women, or people with disabilities; they can strengthen the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for all citizens, add prohibitions against physical violence, or expand Section 1873 to include private employees. This is why the Hate Crimes Act was successful: provisions for LGBT people, and simultaneously for many others. It’s just a question of how much work our representatives are willing to do.

Well, it only takes one voice to be heard at the right time and the right place. I have one voice, I know the place and the time to speak..

..and I'll try my best to be at the right place at the right time to be heard. Because if I don't try, at least try then there is no chance of it moving at all.

Don't do Buddhist Monk impressions on the steps of the Capitol, OK?
You know what I mean.

It wouldn't work. You'd just be seen as a nut-job.

Angela Brightfeather | January 28, 2010 11:24 PM


Don't you find it kind of funny that there is nothing coming out of Congressman Frank or HRC about this? Not a peep! If the word is out on the Hill about ENDA getting shelved, are they to scared to tell the turth or is the truth to hard to face? I mean if leads say it is so, then the silence coming from HRC, NGLTF, Frank, Baldwin, NCTE is deafening on this. No reasons, no analysis, not even speculation.

Call me a sceptic, but I smell Transpobs in Congressional wrappings that don't want to have it on the table just how bigoted they really are about the gender language because they don't want the black eye before the mid terms. the only way that i can see that kind of news not coming out, is to put a complete shutdown on anything coming from the usual sources.

The fact is, that for the rest of the Obama administration, NO bill is safe from filibuster.

This just puts ENDA on an equal footing with all the bills with support along straight party lines. The required goal now is no longer 60, it's 51.

Passing ENDA is now no more difficult than passing anything else.

Once again, let's just ignore the political reality for ANYTHING LGBT-related. That way we can waste time and energy on the false hope of a political solution.

It's one thing for politicians to mislead us, it's another for a quasi-journalistic Blog like Bilerico to do the same. Somebody needs to tell the truth. So, make those calls, send those emails, protest in the streets - maybe it makes you feel better. But, don't believe it actually helps.

We keep focusing on politics and protest when the answer is the people. Until we face that reality we will continue to lose. Our equality is our responsibility. We aren't doing anything about that by "wishing and hoping" that politics will save us - it will not.

We don't have a movement because we don't have honesty and accountability. That includes Bilerico. In the "old days" journalism meant "truth." Today it is "talking points" and "wishful thinking."

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | January 29, 2010 6:59 AM

Andrew, until 1991 "Pravda" was the official voice of the Soviet Communist Party. "Isvestia" was the official voice of the Soviet government in it's day. Pravda means "Truth" and Isvestia means "News."

This led to the expression: "There is no news in "Pravda" and no truth in "Isvestia."

Journalism in America never meant the truth was being printed. In the early republic rival political parties owned newspapers and would regularly lie about candidates in other parties with a heavy hand. Did you not study Heart newspapers, muckraking and our entrance into the Spanish American War?

As the dominoes fall we will prevail. "Journalistic integrity" is a recent development that the online community has overlooked. It also included shielding the public's "right to know" if it was a private Larry Craig.

I am so tired of hearing of the Democrats act like they are all facing recall, afraid to move anything to a vote out of fear they might get a filibuster on it. Sadly given the way they seem to run from their stated position on an issue that is very close to passage at this time, it seems unlikely ENDA will be moved forward in the next 10 or 15 years. We who fall under the grouping of LGBT apparently are all second class citizens and destined to remain so with the lack of leadership in Washington we thought we helped get elected. John Steward had it right, the Republicans seem to be able to basically stalemate Congress on a 41 vote minority in the Senate. If that is how it is, we will not see ENDA pass until the Democrats get oh, 80% of the seats in both houses it appears.

No Joanna - if they get 80% then a large number will be in very marginal seats, afraid they'll lose at the next election. No way will they do anything "controversial". They won't even let things get to a vote. That's the problem we have at the moment.

Angela Brightfeather | January 29, 2010 8:49 AM

Zoe, I agree. The one thing that we have always said is bring it to a vote and lets see things like the geographical diversity, the people we need to seriuosly work on within the districts, the people who say nice to your face and waste your time while never intending to vote for ENDA, where the people are who have to be educated.

All the efforts of everyone since 1992 would have been much more affective if we were able to concentrate our time and money in the right directions. Lets see the results of BArney Frank's "straw poll". Bring ENDA to a vote in the Senate and lets see how the chips fall. There is always another session where they can "tweek" it and bring it back again.

By the way, how did we go from "tweeking" to "forget it". Why can' we get some accountability?