ENDA, we hardly knew ya

In a scenario that will look all too familiar to those who were watching in 2007, we’re about to kill ENDA again.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (aka ENDA) is legislation that would ban employment discrimination against gay and trans people, under federal law. Currently, it’s legal under federal law to fire someone for being gay or transgender, though it has been outlawed in a number of states and municipalities.

ENDA has been around since 1974, and the community has been trying to pass the legislation ever since.

It’s a long story as to what happened between then and now, but suffice it to say, ENDA never went very far, though it lost by only one vote in the US Senate in 1996 (I was there, in the gallery, watching, since I was working on the bill as a volunteer for Senator Kennedy).

ENDA, via HRC.

ENDA, via HRC.

The bill came up again in 2007, where two bills ended up being introduced in the House, one covering sexual orientation, and the other including gender identity as well. (Up until that point, the previous versions of ENDA had only covered sexual orientation.) The gender identity version died in committee. Openly-gay Cong. Barney Frank then introduced the previous year’s version of ENDA, that only covered sexual orientation, and it passed the US House and went to the Senate.  The legislation subsequently died in the Senate, after the gay community had a quite vocal, and quite angry, split between those advocating ENDA’s passage and those advocating that the legislation be killed because it didn’t include gender identity.  Subsequently, a group of those who had opposed the non-trans version of ENDA, calling themselves “United ENDA,” promised to easily obtain passage of the trans-inclusive version of the legislation, and nothing happened for another six years.

Fast forward to last year, 2013.  A version of ENDA that included gender identity passed the US Senate, but is expected to go nowhere under GOP House Speaker Boehner’s tutelage. Boehner has already said he won’t let the bill come up.

In the meantime, there’s been an effort going on for several years now to get the White House to issue an executive order, mandating ENDA’s protections for federal contractors of a certain size.  That has gone nowhere, though the President had previously supported it. We’ll come back to that in a moment.

Fast forward to this year. After demanding that the House pass the version of ENDA that already sailed through the Senate, and demanding that the President issue an ENDA executive order, many of the same gay/lgbt groups that called for the Senate to kill ENDA in 2007 are now calling on the House to kill the Senate-passed version of ENDA as well. This time, they are concerned that the bill’s religious exemption is too broad; some are arguing that we should simply amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and add sexual orientation and gender identity to the already-existing civil rights law.

(I know that back in the day, in the early 90s, I’d asked why we weren’t doing just that, amending the Civil Rights Act instead of trying to pass a free-standing bill. And I was told that, among other concerns, the Republicans would like nothing better than for us to open the Civil Rights Act to their amendments, effectively permitting them to gut it. I also suspect that not including us in the Civil Rights Act was a nod to some allies who might object. Do those same concerns exist today? Probably.)

The concern over the religious exemption arose last year during the Senate debate, with the ACLU expressing their displeasure, but also indicating they would not oppose the bill. The exemption was broadened, reportedly, to win GOP Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s support, which it did.

I asked one of the groups now calling for the Senate-passed version of ENDA to be killed if the executive order had the same problems. I was told that while the executive order was likely less problematic, it was still problematic.

So, where does that leave us today?

We’ve been pushing the House to bring up a bill that some vocal parts of the community now want killed. And we’ve been asking the President to sign an executive order that we might now oppose.  Where does that leave the White House and the US House? Confused; and ENDA in limbo.

I’m often asked why the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and ongoing legalization of gay marriage seem to have sailed through so quickly, while ENDA is going nowhere.  Here are my thoughts.

Nothing went anywhere quickly. The ban on gays in the military goes back a long time, and DADT itself goes back to 1993. We’ve been fighting 20 years on that one alone.  As for marriage, ditto. The issue has been burning for a good two decades plus in the community.

Yes, but we finally won on those two issues, but ENDA, not so much.  Why?  In part, because DADT and marriage had some pretty delicious victims — the military members, in their dress blues, were coming out of the woodwork on a weekly basis, while the TV was filled with images of happy gay couples running to city hall, starting in Massachusetts back in 2004, and then proceeding state by state.  As for ENDA, name one gay or trans person who is the poster child for ENDA.  The lack of sympathetic, visible victims isn’t helping move things along any quicker.

And finally, at this point, it’s not clear how the White House issues an executive order, or how the US House brings up the bill itself, when the community is, in an echo from 2007, divided as to what it even wants.  Uncertainty does not breed political courage.

That’s why prospects for the ENDA legislation and executive order continue to look dim, in contrast to our success on DADT and marriage.

Plus ça change.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Strepsi, I’m at a point in life where I no longer need ENDA to protect me, but others do. The religious exemption might be too broad, and it might also be less broad than no protection at all. Civil Unions also codified separate but equal status, and they were also the first step towards to getting marriage. I’ve learned in life that sometimes you have to demand everything, and at other times you have to realize that by demanding everything all the time you might just end up with nothing, a lot. And if folks are willing to take a pass on ENDA for another 7 years, okey dokey.

  • Ninong

    Looking back at the church Obama attended in Chicago, it’s hard to believe he genuinely supported gay marriage before his first foray into the political arena. It’s possible, maybe probable, that he lukewarmly supported it early in his political career as a matter of politics. Then he changed his mind and was against it when he decided to run for national office.

    Here’s what I think. I think Barack Obama went through the same sort of awakening as Bill and Hillary Clinton. The more openly gay people they came to know and work with the more their position on gay marriage “evolved.”

    I believe Obama and the Clintons genuinely support gay marriage now but I don’t think they were all that gung-ho about it 20 years ago. In it have started out as a matter of political expedience but it has evolved to a matter of belief in the fundamental right of marriage equality for everyone.

  • Ninong

    We have to remember that the 2007 LGB version of ENDA passed the House but was filibustered in the Senate. That was the version where Barney Frank agreed that dropping the ‘T’ was the only way to get it passed. I talked to a congressman about that at the time and he told me there was no way he could have supported the original ‘T’-inclusive version of the bill because his Republican opponent in the next election would run TV ads against him that included clips of drag queens on parade and say that he wanted to force all employers to hire people who would come to work dressed like that.

    John, I think that topic came up on this forum and any thought of dropping the ‘T’ from the bill just to get something passed brought over a large contingent of folks who claimed we were throwing them under the bus. Okay, maybe we were but it was a start. Unfortunately, they didn’t see it that way.

    An all-or-nothing LGBT version of ENDA will be hard to pass in both houses of Congress anytime soon. Maybe 10 years from now, assuming Democrats control both houses of Congress.

  • Annski1

    Yes but isn’t it strange that the military workplace is the only one that bans discrimination? I think this was when people started understanding who was behind HRC and why their inside the beltway strategy was a failure..although even ending DADT took sit-ins against Pelosi and blocking Harry Reid’s home town and shackling the gates of the White House

  • Annski1

    Which is why in “right to work” [sic] states the LGBT workers I have met with did not care about Marriage Equality only about ENDA – which will never happen state by state but needs to be a national movement

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Yes, and every online application either starts with date of birth or asks for dates for high school and college graduation (which allows them to do some very simple math). Age discrimination is rampant in the hiring process. Because there are so many applicants for every job, proving the discrimination would be hard, but taking age out of the pre-screening process would be helpful. (Why that’s legal I do not know.)

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    For once we agree. My union hasn’t allowed anti-gay discrimination for decades, well before it was outlawed in NY State (which didn’t happen until 2003). Unions have been good allies on gay rights issues (as is documented in the film Milk).

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Same here. And the irony is that almost everyone thinks ENDA is the law anyway.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    We had Democratic majorities in both houses so DADT could come up for a vote. There were also enough Republicans (not many but enough for passage) to get DADT repealed. We probably have the votes for ENDA in the House but Boehner would never let it come up for a vote. Botching this in 2009-2010 was a major failure of Democratic leadership and HRC (and others). Blah blah blah because reasons. That was probably our last chance until at least 2023 (when there’s a possibility of undoing some of the 2010 Gerrymandering and electing a Congress that represents how people actually voted. If we had proportional representation, we’d have gotten the House back in 2012).

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I am sympathetic to your frustration with “leftists” but please don’t act like everyone to the left of the tea party is a leftist. That’s just not accurate. And you almost only find those folks in very deep blue enclaves (I met some in nyc) and in Academia (where even the liberals find them tiresome). btw, a little mass culture can be fun. It’s definitely not fit for a main course but a side dish of something fun or campy (or hot) even if it’s silly will keep you sane.

  • Bomer

    I’m not even 40 and I’m getting that.

  • Wilberforce

    You’re right. We probably agree about most things. But I’m an autodidact and probably shouldn’t be speaking in any popular forum, because mass culture is too ignorant and corrupt for my taste. That includes the rank and file. And I refuse to make excuses for them, which tends to make me unpopular. Ah well. Que sera sera as Dorris would say.

  • Strepsi

    Bill I actually agree with ” by opposing LGBT participation in the US military murder machine” — and I oppose it. But I support gay people’s right to serve if they want to. They have the equal right to make a bad choice, just as married gay people have the equal right to have a bad marriage.

  • Strepsi

    You can’t be agnostic on the religious exemption: it would actually codify the ability to discriminate in an anti-discrimination bill! The bill is now toxic for progressives and humanists on that front alone

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Considering what happens to people like King, Milk, Ghandi, etc, I’m not sure I want to wish that job on anyone.

    There are a number of problems but the largest is that our mainstream media is now run by idiots for idiots. There is no interest in intelligent conversation, just one group shouting at another. The Tea Party is the symptom of this, not the cause. I got into the same fight in another post on this blog. So much of what we disagree about could be settled if reasonable people had an adult conversation. That no longer seems possible. We do need good leadership and the leaders are there working very hard. (Evan Wolfson does a good job, for example. I’m sure others can think of other people doing good work. Actually if anyone reads this and wants to nominate someone that is a good spokesperson for gay rights and interests to the public at large, nominate them. It’s been a long day and I just can’t think right now.)

  • Bill_Perdue

    Neither do I. I opposed DADT from the day the Clinton and other Democrats imposed it on our communities. I’m glad GetEqual fought to get it repealed and glad the Democrats were frightened by them and by the 2009 March on DC.

    You fight against empire builders and war criminals like the Clintons, the Bushes and Obama by opposing LGBT participation in the US military murder machine and by encouraging people to act like Chelsea Manning and rebel. SLDN and it’s supporters were supporters of imperial wars and encouraged, instead of discouraged, participation in the murder machine.

  • Bill_Perdue

    We didn’t have the votes because so many Democrats were bigots, just as they were when they voted for DOMA.

    It wasn’t a civil war it was viscous attack on trans people by Barney Frank.

    I don’t expect we will agree on much when it comes to politics.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    In 2007, we did not have the votes for the expanded bill. And after we made a debacle of the entire process, by having a civil war in the community over whether Dems should vote for or against the bill we just made them pass, I’m not surprised they weren’t in the mood to bring it up again any time soon. And now, we’re doing the same thing thing, telling them to kill the bill we just demanded they pass. Sorry, Bill, but we’re not going to agree on much ;-)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I don’t think you fight war by sanctioning government-sponsored discrimination against minorities.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Maybe. I always figured DADT and marriage would be the last things we’d ever get, marriage especially last.

  • Butch1

    I agree.

  • Wilberforce

    It keeps them off the streets. But it wastes our time and their destructive strategies sabotage our movement. But there’s nothing that can be done. They’ve been established for decades and their delusions are iron clad.

  • Wilberforce

    You’re right. I shouldn’t have pointed the finger. Yet the problem of corruption is caused by the community’s obsession with looks. They have no time to call their leaders to account, and wouldn’t recognized a serious leader if he danced down the street in a pink tu tu. So long as they make excuses and spin distractions, nothing will change.

  • Mike Rasor

    “I’m often asked why the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and ongoing legalization of gay marriage seem to have sailed through so quickly, while ENDA is going nowhere. ”

    I would add to your list of reasons that it is always inherently easier for any minority group to argue against de jure discrimination than to argue for laws which address de facto discrimination. Generally, Americans have a sensibility that we want minimal government interference in citizens private lives. This makes it much easier to argue against laws which discriminate against minorities than to argue for laws which forbid discriminatory acts committed by other private citizens.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Obama is a war criminal just as bad as the Bushes and Clintons.

  • Butch1

    Exactly. If we continue to elect democrats we will continue to get the same results. They do nothing for us anymore. We need real liberal independents in Congress.

  • Matt Foreman

    ENDA would have been a triumph 20 years ago and a significant win 7 years ago. Now, in addition to the egregious religious exemption, ENDA includes 4 other caves:

    1. LGBT victims of discrimination, unlike others, cannot file disparate impact claims (i.e,.claims showing that an employer’s practices cause disproportionate harm to people of color, women, etc.). Victims of other forms of discrimination may file such claims.

    2. It prohibits government agencies from taking into account a religious employer’s discriminatory practices against LGBT people in considering grants, permits or any other benefits. On the other hand,
    government agencies are permitted to take into account religious institution’s discrimination based on race, sex, national origin and disability.

    3. It prohibits federal courts and the EEOC from requiring employers to take affirmative action to address longstanding discrimination against LGBT people. On the other hand, courts and the EEOC may require such action in
    instances involving other forms of discrimination.

    4. It prohibits the EEOC from collecting any data about sexual orientation and gender identity from employers. On the other hand, under the Civil Rights Act the EEOC is obligated to collect data on employee race and sex by job category from all covered employers.

    If ENDA passes in this form, it will take years and years to address these flaw and the religious exemption. If the history of other civil rights laws is any guide, that will be long after you and I leave this life. Moreover, its passage will certainly undercut work in several states to pass comprehensive nondiscrimination laws that cover more than employment and generally offer better remedies than ENDA.

    On balance, I think the negatives of the current ENDA outweigh its positives.

  • Butch1

    And farther to the left. I have been voting for third party candidates since 2010. Watching candidate Obama run during his first election as a moderate democrat and immediately upon entering the Oval Office turn into a conservative republican deriding his base for the next three years and pulling a stunt that was totally unforgivable when he put Social Security on the chopping block during negotiations on the debt ceiling, I had had enough of this traitor. Then he immediately turned into that moderate democrat again when it was time to campaign for his second term. He even tried to mend fences with his base. Those with any brains didn’t forget the past four years. He even promised to protect Social Security and Veteran’s Benefits along with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, two other liars.

    Once back safely into his second term he came up with the Chained-CPI, a euphemism for paying the debt off of the Seniors and the Disabled Veterans. Yes, take money away from Social Security and Veteran’s Benefits! This is how the head of the Democratic Party planned to screw the oldest people and the disabled veterans of this country. That money in the Social Security is OUR money we put away for retirement our of OUR checks when we were working. He acts like it is the government’s money.

    I know I haven’t forgotten what he has tried to do. Adding Assassination Council of which he is in charge of that Drone program and the many other classified wars where we may have “boots on the ground” still, this man did not deserve the Nobel Prize for Peace. This power has either gone to his head or he is such a weak leader the Pentagon has taken advantage of him. I was fooled voting for him the first time; my eyes were open the second time around.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Thanks.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The question I raised was about bigots in both Congressional parties. The polls have shifted to our side, bigotry is becoming less attractive and some of them are rebranding.

    No fantasy there and no reason to stop fighting.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    And rare is the situation where a manager or boss or employer doesn’t engage in harassment of some kind before doing the firing. Otherwise nobody would ever win employment discrimination cases.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    *shrug* And it still doesn’t matter because there’s no way it will even come up for a vote in the House much less pass. It’s really not worth all the attention we are giving it since it’s a non-starter. I wonder what it’s like to have a job where making a lot of noise and acting like you did something counts as work (and pays pretty well).

  • trinu

    I must disagree. It’s true that with ENDA, very few people will admit to firing based on sexual orientation, but at least you will have a chance to make that accusation in court.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Please. People fly their bigot flags with pride in at least half the country. You live in a fantasy world.

  • FLL

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that the government uses different factors to determine if a company is religious in nature. The ENDA bill in the Senate uses the definition of “religion exemption” from Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (Here’s the link.)

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Good luck with that.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Fighting for equality is never moot. Even if the only result to embarrass Democrat and Republican bigots.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Except for union shops with a strong union.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    “Right to work” actually means “right to get fired at anytime, for any or no reason”. Corporate discrimination policies don’t actually apply to the hiring and firing, only to how you as an employee must be seen to be treating your fellow employees. Once you’re on the board of executives, it no longer matters.

  • Bill_Perdue

    We aren’t going to get anything good for workers from Democrats or Republicans. We have to win it.

  • Bill_Perdue

    I disagree. Repeal of DADT was as much a blow to the antiwar movement, one of our natural allies as it was a limited gain and it was brought about by GetEqual.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    This isn’t about perfection. The current version of ENDA has such a large exemption that it doesn’t provide any actual protection for anyone. In addition, there’s no way the bill is coming up for a vote in the House anyway, so what’s the point in fighting to get it through the Senate? Maybe you enjoy exercises in futility but I find them a big fat waste of time.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    You? Is that finger pointed at me? For one thing I’m very much a fan of Kramer. And let’s be honest, Milk wasn’t much of a looker. The problem is actually that beltway insiders reward their friends with these jobs that they are often unqualified. (At one point it was common for board members to put their partners in these positions.) The seem to exist mostly to throw lavish parties and patting themselves on the back. We need grassroots organizing. A few visits at the local office of a state representative means more than a visit from a lobbyist. Local people need support (talking points, perhaps a practice for what they plan to say to help them get their message across and stay on point since time is limited…the “elevator pitch” if you will)…but the idea that we can make real progress from inside the beltway has failed and there was never any chance that it would succeed.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Psychobabble won’t cut it.

  • 2karmanot

    Oh yeah, “It’s not that you are over 50 and too old, but because you are overqualified.” Next!

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    W would never have signed ENDA so again this is a moot point.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    We’re not going to get a $10.10 minimum wage up for a vote in the House much less $15. So I’m not sure what your point is. Except for a token vote to use as a campaign issue, nothing is going to happen. I have been mocking the GOP House members for years now for continually voting to repeal the ACA. A vote in the Senate on ENDA or a minimum wage bill is the same thing from the other side.

  • FLL

    Obama may be, in reality, the king sleazebag of the universe and cynically rebranding in order to suit his future job prospects or his personal vanity. Or his support for marriage equality may be honest. Everyone has the right to make either claim. Personally, I really don’t care which of the two claims are accurate. I’m only interested in a victorious result. Likewise, I feel no need to psychoanalyze Harry Reid using telepathic powers. John McCain’s senate filibuster in support of keeping DADT was broken. That’s all that counts. And DADT counts for a lot… like since the Roman Empire and Greek city-states.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    The DADT repeal only happened at the very last minute of that Congress (before the Teabaggers could get sworn in and with the insistence of GOP Sen Susan Collins. It wouldn’t have happened without her and almost didn’t at all. Yes, some things got done but only after a lot of pushing.

    Look, it’s always been this way. Electing leaders sympathetic to your agenda is not enough. Once they are in they have to be constantly reminded to honor their promises. Note that Obama still hasn’t signed the executive order demanding nondiscrimination from all federal contractors. THAT would have a bigger impact than a watered down ENDA. We’re in his 6th year. Still no executive order. That’s what I’m talking about.

    Look, I voted for Obama. (Both times) and I certainly don’t regret that vote, but we have had to drag this administration kicking and screaming and I am not going to give him a free pass because when we do this for ANYONE we get nothing. He’s going to have to be pressured into doing what he ought to have done in 2009. I don’t even know why you are arguing with me about this. You know it’s true.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Repealing DADT was a huge victory that was the beginning of the end of the culture wars. It doesn’t make if you like war or not. Culturally, it was a huge deal. Some people don’t like marriage either, but I’m still gonna fight for it, because if we get marriage nationwide, the culture wars truly are over (even if we’ll still be fighting skirmishes for a long time after).

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Actually, I received a lot of pushback from folks saying it would be a cakewalk to pass a “united ENDA,” and that’s why anyone suggesting compromise was silly, a traitor, didn’t know politics, [insert criticism here]. I’m all for not watering things down, so long as folks are fine with likely not winning for a very long time. And I’m sorry, Matt, but you seem to be suggesting that the reason ENDA has gone nowhere is that it was too watered down. So we’d win over more reluctant members of congress by making the bill more liberal, and compromising less? I don’t think I believe that. I’m agnostic on the religious exemption argument, in any case, so I’m neither here nor there on the question of killing the current version of the bill. But I do think it’s important to acknowledge that this train isn’t going anywhere fast, and that the current (new) strategy will likely slow things down even further. And if folks are fine with that, then okay. So long as they don’t complain to men about why we got DADT and marriage, and can’t seem to make any headway on ENDA.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Bingo. And Dems didn’t move ahead with ENDA, but they did with hate crimes, and marriage, and DADT…. So perhaps it’s not just the Dems that are holding things back, as we’ve gotten most of what we asked for (on gay stuff).

  • FLL

    I think the Senate in 2007 was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Did the Republicans threaten a filibuster? Didn’t the ENDA side have 60 votes to break a filibuster?

  • nicho

    ENDA is, at best, a symbol. That’s all. It’s counterproductive to spend a lot of political capital on it.

    Without ENDA; “Joe, I’m firing you because you’re a queer.”
    With ENDA: “Sorry, Joe, we don’t need you any more and we’re going to have to let you go.”

    It’s a fire-at-will economy. You don’t even have to give a reason.

  • Matt Foreman

    Actually, no one I know in United ENDA promised it would be easy to pass an inclusive ENDA. What was clear,however, was that any version of ENDA passed by the House would go no where in the Senate. So, what was the point in stripping protections for trans people out of the bill? In other words, in 2007 – as in 2014 – ENDA had no prospect of becoming law. Yes, difficult and ugly “compromises” are often required at the end to get a bill over the finish line. There is zero point, however, in making compromises when that line can’t be seen. Over the last 20 years,our side has repeatedly agreed to ENDA being watered down based based on promises that if our side gave X or Y or Z then it would move. This strategy has (a) gotten us no where in terms of an actual law; and (b) left ENDA profoundly flawed. Our movement has come light years in 20 years; ENDA has gone backwards.

  • pappyvet

    We cannot confuse women by giving them the right to vote.

    Emancipation means that blacks will one day want equality with whites.

    Blacks should not have the right to vote.

    Homosexuality is against the law.

    Yes it is true that ENDA is not yet the law of the land.
    I was at the Candlelight Memorial in 1983,all of us alive then and now were there in flesh or in spirit future or past. We made a promise. Don’t care if it is the fault of Dems or Repubs. Perhaps the fault lies also with us. Maybe we have gotten too close to the forest. Too close to the game. I wonder.

  • FLL

    I’ve lived in various parts of the country, and I will say from observation that it does take hard work to beat bigoted religious right-wing candidates, but with hard work, it can be done. The “all or nothing crowd” that you mention, I think, are just amusing themselves with their hysterical exhortations for liberal or progressive voters to avoid voting for any candidate who actually appears on the ballot. What these hysterics are doing is theatrical, but at least eat keeps them off the streets. ;)

  • Wilberforce

    It’s a waste of time trying to reason with the all or nothing crowd. They’ve been sabotaging us from day one, from the aids ignorers to the Nader voters to the enda destroyers. It’s for an obvious reason. They have an emotional problem, a need to complain about others. It’s been the calling card of the far left since forever, and it relieves them of having to lift a finger themselves. So it’s always someone else’s fault. Demanding perfection guarantees its opposite. And things going to hell in a hand basket provides a sweet distraction from their own laziness.

  • FLL

    There’s quite a lot of advice on this thread from people who regret two things:

    (1) the takeover of Congress by Democrats in 2006
    (2) Obama’s election in 2008

    And what if progressive voters had taken their advice? DADT would still be the law of the land. Instead of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court, we’d have John McCain’s picks, and of course DOMA would still be the law of the land. Be careful who you take advice from. The person may be sincere and foolish, or even worse, misrepresenting themselves.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Criticizing the right winger in the WH is something to be proud of.

    It’s not the domain of the right.

    Millions of his former supporters – 30 million of them – deserted him and his party in 2010 and they’re desperately afraid of losing the Senate this time around and with good reason. Class dividing questions like the minimum wage, Obama’s union busting and his determination to gut Social Security and further gut Medicare are driving workers to the left. As are mass movements to organize workers at places like Wal-Mart, home of the Clintons, and McDonald’s. Mass opposition to his warmongering and his claim that he has the right to murder American citizens, including a 16 year old boy are also driving larger and larger numbers of people away.

  • 2karmanot

    Civil Rights and the ‘angry inch’—- still shortchanged.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Passage in the Senate was just a gesture to get votes, not something real and not something that means squat.

  • 2karmanot

    Remember when Obama was the hope of the future, whose speechifying oozed with hope and change, a return to core Democratic values, and the rule of just law? What we got was a Clinton redo on steroids. Bush the Petite, was virtually unmatched in American history for venality and sheer magnificent and malicious incompetence. Obozo has certainly matched that record, but with skilled and decisive 11ty dimensional chess. There are those in the DC circles who insist that great progress has been made for GLB peoples and that is certainly true, but no thanks to Obama. That same circle maintains with the wisdom of cynical experience that the barely possible is somehow adequate and an an advance. While marriage has made strides, too many states can legally discriminate against GLB peoples. firing them from life sustaining jobs. Obama, our so-called declared fieriest advocate is a fraud and wears lightly the scourge of gross humane violations. To hell with Obama. I never thought I be joining the ranks of the right wing in condemnation of him.

  • FLL

    I wholeheartedly agree. You could even successfully argue that the Bible gives fundamentalist Christians specific support for maintaining racial segregation, and the Bible certainly offers support for the institution of slavery. Religious scripture and/or bigotry is an equally insufficient excuse for gutting ENDA.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The hate crimes bill was hurriedly passed in the other house and signed by Obama only as a result of the National March for Equality.

    Marriage equality, including the wins in the federal and state courts, was the result of the mass movement for equality, a movement awakened when Obama ensured the passage of Prop 8 with his bigoted ‘gawd’s in the mix’.

    It’s true that Obama rebranded but that was the result of changes in the polls which showed up a year before he rebranded. “In March and April of 2011, polls by Gallup, ABC News/Washington Post, and CNN/Opinion Research all showed that a majority of Americans approved of same-sex marriage.” (wiki)

    May 14, 2012 New York Times “Obama’s Switch on Same-Sex Marriage Stirs Skepticism – Most Americans suspect that President Obama was motivated by politics, not policy, when he declared his support for same-sex marriage, according to a new poll released on Monday, suggesting that the unplanned way it was announced shaped public attitudes. … Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed by The New York Times and CBS News since the announcement said they thought that Mr. Obama had made it “mostly for political reasons,” while 24 percent said it was “mostly because he thinks it is right.”

    DADT was a victory of sorts employment equality but also major endorsement of wars of aggression.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    As Houndentenor notes below, the GOP-controlled House will pass nothing as far as pro-gay rights goes, so I have to ask, what exactly is the purpose in expending political (and actual) capital to have the Senate pass a bill that is guaranteed to go nowhere? (And why was there such reluctance to pass ENDA in any form in 2008-2010 when the Dems controlled Congress and the WH?)

    We can argue all we like about whether gender expression and identity should be included, but this new ENDA being taken up by the Dems has one extremely disturbing thing in common with the GOP position: That it’s fine (and legal) to discriminate against gay people if you really want to. That’s how broad the religious exemption is.

    This creates the new baseline position for both sides. GOP: “People should be free to discriminate against gay people, period.” Dem: “People shouldn’t discriminate against gay people, unless they claim God tells them to.” What that position doesn’t include is, “Don’t discriminate, it’s against the law.”

    Consider what the existing Civil Rights Act if its language outlawed discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of race, creed, religion, or gender — but included a wide-ranging religious and ‘personal conscience’ exemption. “Sorry Dr. King, but in my religion blacks and whites shouldn’t sit together at my lunch counter or have our kids go to the same schools. That’s all the reason I need.” Believe it or not, that’s exactly the rationale put forth by the segregationists in the 1960s. And the anti-feminists in the 70s. “Okay, if we can’t stop you from passing your law, at least make it so we can easily refuse to comply.”

    Expending effort now to pass in the Senate a bill guaranteed to be dead in the House is like throwing yourself repeatedly against a brick wall. Keep doing that and if there ever comes a day when there’s a door available, you won’t have the energy or wherewithal remaining to open and walk through it.

  • FLL

    Using a term from formal logic, I think this is called a necessary but not sufficient condition. It is necessary for the Democrats to control the House in order for ENDA to pass, but that alone is not sufficient since you have to lobby and hold their feet to the fire. If the Republicans control the House, you get a guarantee of failure for ENDA.

    I think that everyone understands this necessary (but not sufficient) condition. I don’t wish to sound overly suspicious, but it seems that there are some people (straight, closeted, openly gay or whatever) who pretend not to understand this condition. Those folks are misrepresenting themselves and are no friends of any version of ENDA.

  • Bill_Perdue

    I don’t think that’s true. Democrats had the votes necessary for passage but refused to go ahead.

    I have no doubt that Republicans applauded the Democrats for that just as they applauded the widespread Democrat support for DOMA, except for Dole who was shocked and dismayed by the fact that Clinton adopted much of the Republican platform to undercut them.

    There are no excuses for the bigotry of the Democrats or the Republicans.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Everyone stopped it. Dems stoppped it. Republicans stopped it. The community changed the bill. Now the community is stopping it again, demanding that the Senate bill be killed. There’s more than enough ‘stopping it’ to go around, honey :)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Except we got hate crimes, we got DADT repealed, we got gay marriage in state after state, and got Obama to recant on his opposition, and got him to affirmatively help us. I don’t buy the fatalism argument. On all the stuff I devoed myself to, we won. It wasn’t just me, but we won. Big. With the same folks you’re arguing will never help us. They did.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Good luck!

  • Bill_Perdue

    Holding their feet to the fire hasn’t ended wars, unemployment or attacks on the Bill of Rights or moves to increase pollution.

    NDAA is their bill, they’re getting worse, not better.

    That’s because they have basically the same policies as Republicans on all the key questions. The way to change thing is to do what voters in Seattle and a number of cities in Ohio did – defeat Democrats and replace them with leftists. http://www.labornotes.org/2013/12/2013-review-aiming-higher-labor-tries-new-angles-and-alliances

    In Seattle the election of a socialist who’d helped build a mass movement opposing Obama’s pro-McDonalds/Wal-Mart totally inadequate minimum wage of $10.10 an hour led to the passage of a minimum wage of $15 an hour, and effort that had the endorsement of virtually all unions.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Democrats were responsible for gutting ENDA in 2007 and for refusing to pass it in the period from Obama’s election, when they had the votes in both houses until the time they lost the house as people woke up to the fact that Obama was a Republican, as he now admits.

    The point of the article is that promises had been made to pass ENDA and that people expected it but that Democrats stopped it.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    The reality is that electing Democrats isn’t enough. It’s a start but we still have to hold their feet to the fire to get them to do anything.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    1) It wasn’t going to pass the House anyway. It wasn’t even going to be allowed up for a vote. It’s just politics, so it’s a moot point anyway.

    2) The watered down ENDA doesn’t really provide any protections if anyone can claim an exemption for religious reasons. Anyone who wants to discriminate is going to claim the religious exemption. Therefore, no one would have any any protections under the law.

    3) I agree that something is better than nothing. But nothing is still nothing and the watered down ENDA is still nothing. The only point of passing this in the Senate is to pretend the Democrats are doing something for gay people. That’s a political game that benefits no one. I’m sick of that bullshit.

  • Bill_Perdue

    It failed because of the Democrats, who refused to pass it. No ‘expert’ is needed to see the absolute truth of that statement.

  • Indigo

    Something, and I don’t know what it is, in the ENDA bills keeps catching on scarcely visible obstacles. Perhaps it’s overly inclusive but then again, perhaps the opponents actively oppose it because they intend to confront and frustrate equal rights for all at every level. It’s homophobia, obviously, but it’s more than that, it’s elitist, social climber country club obstructionism at its most Republican. Oddly enough, any number of elitist, social climber country club limousine liberals hop on board. Maybe Hillary knows where enough skeletons are hidden to push it through the legislature a la Lyndon Johnson style.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’m not sure I understand your argument. Obviously the failure of ENDA has to deal with how many votes we can get in Congress, all legislation sinks or swims based on that. I’m not sure how linking to an article from four years ago, telling us that ENDA is ready to pass and will pass like “greased lightning” backs up your point, as it’s been 4 years now, and it’s gone nowhere. And in any case, the point is moot: No one in Congress, nor the White House, has any idea what version of ENDA to support anymore, as the current Senate-passed version is now, apparently, bad. Once folks decide what they do what, and can stick to it, we may just get the votes. But the past 7 years of failure are not a great resume builder for the folks who thought up the current strategy, and who keep saying what a slam dunk this will be to pass.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’m not interested in how many “groups” United ENDA had, all that counts is how many votes they had. They said it would be a cake walk to to pass their version of ENDA that year, and it took 6 years, and it’s still not the law of the land. Passing laws and changing policy is not child’s play. People sometimes like to come in and tell the experts how easy it is to do all of this, and how therefore we should never compromise. And what results is often nothing. Seven years of nothing, to be precise :)

  • Bill_Perdue

    The failure of ENDA in 2007 and from 2009 to 2010 had nothing to do with anyone but the Democrats in Congress and the WH. Hopes were high in 2010 but they were dashed. http://www.bilerico.com/2010/05/enda_now_ready_to_pass.php

  • Bill_Perdue

    “Subsequently, a group of those who had opposed the non-trans version inclusive version of ENDA, calling themselves “United ENDA,” promised to easily obtain passage of the trans-inclusive version of the legislation, and nothing happened for another six years.” If I remember correctly United ENDA included over 250 groups. It had huge national backing. http://www.thetaskforce.org/enda07/tools/united_enda_materials_1.pdf

    United ENDA did try to get passage. Your history skipped the period of 2009-2010 when Democrats controlled both houses and the WH. Barney Frank and others promised ENDA, Frank even abandoned his bigotry and came out for an inclusive ENDA, but some very powerful Democrat or group of Democrats stopped it cold. It was never taken up in Congress. This is at the same time the WH and it’s DoJ were defending bigot Bill Clintons DOMA and DADT in the courts, often using vile bigoted language. If ENDA failed it was entirely the fault of Democrats.

    Republicans do oppose ENDA and have successfully helped block it for decades. So have Democrats. Unfortunately for us They successfully blocked ENDA when they controlled Congress.

    The inaction of Democrats on ENDA, the continued support for DOMA and DADT in the courts by the WH, Obama’s inaction on unemployment and homelessness, the Democrats continued prosecution of wars of aggression and the betrayal of their own ‘public option’ created so much disgust that 30 million of Obama’s 2008 voters abandoned the Democrats and they lost the House. Democrats should have seen that coming because the National Equality March with over 200,000 participants, held on October 11th, 2009 was virtually an anti-Obama march. That’s why it was opposed by most LGBT Democrat ‘leaders’.

  • Wilberforce

    When? That’ll be when you drop your obsession with looks and start choosing people with brains and character. In other words, never.
    You have the leaders you deserve. Case in point, Larry Kramer, who tried to stop the spread of hiv and was fired from the organization he had founded.
    Lesson: smart and competent people need not apply.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Maybe. But as I’ve said before, the best is often enemy of the good. A lot of folks don’t believe in incrementalism, and that’s fine, but they then shouldn’t get upset if we don’t see ENDA for a very long time. Principled stands are great, but they negate complaining afterwards about why the bill hasn’t gone anywhere. Remember that United ENDA in 2007 said it would be “easy” to pass the all-encompassing version of ENDA that they wanted, and it took another 6 years to simply get it through the Senate, and now folks want that version killed. I’m not saying that this is a good version. I am saying that this is not a glide path to getting ENDA passed, or getting an Executive Order issued, in the near future. And if folks can live with no ENDA, then this approach might be fine.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    How does Chad Griffin get these jobs? His only skill is self-promotion: pretending he accomplished things that are the work of others. When are we going to put actual leaders in charge of national gay rights groups and not these poseurs?

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    The religious exemption is so broad that it allows anyone who WOULD discriminate against gay people to do so. How many non-religious reasons for anti-gay discrimination to you year? Few to none. This version was pointless and not going to pass anyway.

    This brings me to a major frustration I have with current American politics. Liberals/Democrats are eager to compromise core values to win over Conservative/Republican votes and they still reject them. Why are we doing this? What purpose does it serve? Are we just setting this up as a campaign issue? I’m sick of being used as a political pawn. Gays should be included in civil rights legislation along with everyone else. Giving bigots a pass for being bigots (oh right, it’s their religion, never mind how many of their religion’s other rules they conveniently ignore on a daily basis). Fuck that. I’m sick of it. If this was a reasonable compromise I might feel differently but this is a token gesture, and I have no interest in being a token.

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  • bkmn

    The current bill has such a wide exemption for religious entities that it is essentially worthless. I agree with those who were criticizing Chad Griffin for pushing ENDA in its current form while grandstanding over Catholic school teachers that lost their jobs for being gay and/or married.

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