From an email just sent out by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (no link in their email, so they don’t get one):
Our community must continue to weigh in with every member of Congress, letting them know of our insistence that a fully [transgender] inclusive ENDA must pass the House this year.
The reason gender identity (i.e., transgendered people, e.g., transexuals) got dropped from ENDA wasn’t because Dem leaders didn’t want trans in there. It’s because we don’t have the votes to get ENDA passed if it includes job protections for transexuals. No amount of “insistence” is going to change that fact; all the pressure in the world on Democratic leaders isn’t going to convince Republicans and conservative Dems to support transexual rights. Pressuring Dem leaders to add the T back into ENDA is addressing the symptom but not the cause. The Dems dropped the T because we don’t have the votes when we include the T. Forcing them to put the T back in does nothing to change the vote count.
And, once we succeed in getting the T added back to ENDA, what’s the plan for convincing the Republicans and conservative Dems to endorse transexual rights, to vote for a trans inclusive ENDA?
I haven’t noticed a massive pro-trans ad campaign, TV campaign, op ed strategy, or anything else over the years. We debate gay issues all the time publicly, and it’s still taken us 30 years to get to the point where we have a shot at passing ENDA for the gays. And now we’re expected to easily pass it with gender identity added on (ENDA has been around for 30 years, while gender identity got added to it for the first time this year) when there’s been no real education of the American people or the Congress whatsoever (and yes, I know the transgender organizations have been lobbying congress since the early 90s, at least, but that is not the same as a national education campaign such as we’ve had on gay issues – and even then, we still have an awful time when gay issues come up for a vote, especially when the congress turns Republican (and there’s no guarantee it won’t again sometime soon)). It’s just my gut, and I hope I’m wrong, but I fear that anyone who thinks the US Congress is going to pass a “transexual civil rights in the workplace bill” any time soon is deluded. I’d love to see it passed, I support its passage, but wishing (aka “insisting”) doesn’t make it so.
So insist away that the Dem leadership put the T back in to ENDA, but please don’t call it a victory when ENDA goes down in flames as a result of your actions, and 25 million gays and lesbians are told to wait a few more decades for their civil rights (assuming they live that long, don’t lose their jobs in the meantime, etc.). If losing is your definition of victory, then we can all pack our bags and go home, because we can achieve that victory – have been achieving that victory for decades – without lifting a finger or donating a dime to a knowier-than-thou gay group.