TGForum Special Report: ENDA & GENDA

| Oct 3, 2007
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In the beginning, there was ENDA. And it was good. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would prohibit job discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity orientation, or appearance. The head of the Human Rights Campaign said they would not back ENDA without the gender specification. And then it all turned to shit. Pardon my French.

It’s been a furious few days in Washington and across the Internet, as ENDA was put forth, cleaved in two, melded back into one thing, and then… split again. All under the gun of a threatened veto.

So, let’s try to make sense of it all, shall we?

ENDA has a lengthy history, dating back to the mid 1970’s. (Wikipedia has a listing, but it’s going to change, so I’d suggest only reading the first couple of paragraphs. Besides, you never know who is changing things there. It’s probably not Angela Gardner doing the editing, so I wouldn’t trust it very far.)

vert_2_solmonese_gi.jpgIt was just last month, at Southern Comfort Convention, that Joe Solmonese, the head of the Human Rights Campaign, made a historic speech promising inclusion of the transgendered provisions in the bill. (See the remarks on YouTube.)

barneyfrank.jpgBut late last week, one of the sponsors of the bill in the House, Rep. Barney Frank, the only openly gay member of the House of Reps, announced, as reported by The Advocate, he didn’t have the votes necessary to get passage of ENDA. And, he said it was the “trans” part that was holding it back.

So, instead, he offered a split: one version would be offered to the House with gender identity included, and one without. (Read more at the Washington Blade.)

donnarose_headshot_sm.jpgAs you can imagine, that set off a bit of debate. The only transgendered member of the board of HRC resigned. (Read more from The Windy City Times. Some groups were in favor of the new version of ENDA, while some were opposed. People for the American Way, for example, said no to the split. As did PFLAG. And Lambda Legal. And the National Center for Lesbian Rights. And the National Stonewall Democrats. And a dozen other organizations that don’t necessarily represent the transgendered community directly. The Log Cabin Republicans have not updated their website lately.)

The furor forced the ENDA sponsors to pull the bill from consideration until later this month.

The Human Rights Campaign is calling on it’s 70,000 members to lobby Congress in favor of an inclusive ENDA. But they earlier said that while they wouldn’t support a bill that doesn’t include gender provisions, but they won’t oppose one that doesn’t either. (More coverage from the Washington Blade.)

vert_nancy_pelosi.jpgThere was a protest outside Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office in California. covered it.

Now, this coming Saturday, October 6th, there’s a protest planned outside the HRC’s National Banquet. It starts at 4:30pm, outside the Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place, NW, (near 9th St and Mass Ave.).

That’s the news. You want my opinion?

The ties between the GLB and the T haven’t always been strong. But, the outcry over the split from smaller organizations and individuals is impressive. Moving, really. Oh sure, there are those who say the T will be added later, or that the T hasn’t done enough to earn this, but one of the best comments I’ve heard came from my friend Laura Carrillo, in Florida: ““By picking and choosing who to include in their non-discrimination bill, these legislators are discriminating. It’s self-contradicting.”

Another interesting point: the fight over ENDA has received next to no coverage from the national, mainstream media. Why? Because even if ENDA passes Congress, President Bush has pledged a veto.

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Category: All TGForum Posts, Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Ronnie Rho has been writing for Transgender Forum since May of 1999. One of these days, she'll get it right. She's been described as the "world's most famous recluse," but only by people who don't know her very well. She is unmarried, and lives in Cincinnati.

Comments (4)

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  1. says:

    Hi Girls, Sorry for the Typo above, Barney Frank’s new bill for sexual orientation only is H.R. 3685, not 2685, if you want to look it up at Sorry again, Cerise

  2. says:

    Hi Ronnie, Great coverage with pics. Barney Frank, split the baby, HR2015, in two, not with the wisdom of Solomon, but Knute Rockne. He tried to make an “end run” for his sexual orientation. He created HR 2685 for sexual orientation and HR 2686 for gender identity. HR 2015 had 171 Congressional sponsors and 2685 had 4 sponsors. Two bills worded exactly as the original with one major difference. HR 2685 would go forward and be marked up for presentation to the floor and HR 2686 would languish and die. Joe (Solomon)ese should resign from HRC not Donna Rose. But there is another TG Member of the Board, newly installed Dana Beyer. HRC is on the wrong side of this issue as evidenced by over 150 organizations who have joined a UNITED ENDA. This year by writing your Congressman we make ourselves known as a political force. Next year with a Democratic President and Congress we may see a TRANS=INCLUSIVE ENDA become law. Thanks, Cerise Richards

  3. joann joann says:

    Ronnie, great report! I can’t believe we’re going thru this all over again. We fought this battle once before in the mid-90s. Looks like we have to fight it again.

  4. ronnierho ronnierho says:

    So, who are our friends? On the right side of the screen, look under coalition members.

    The list keeps getting longer too. This is important because it shows that there is widespread support among the community for keeping the T connected to the GLB.

    You’ll notice HRC is *not* on this list.