CommunityPam's House Blend

Twelve LGBT Groups United: Don't Strip Trans Protections From ENDA

~~~~~Upates at the bottom of the post~~~~~

Last night, Window Media reported that ENDA is in trouble over transgender inclusion.

Today (September 27, 2007), twelve LGBT groups spoke out in opposition to the idea of stripping transgender protections from ENDA; the groups aren’t silent in objecting to the idea of removing trans protections from ENDA.

Leaders of 12 LGBT rights groups issued a statement Thursday opposing any effort to remove transgender protections from the latest iteration of the 33-year drive to add gay men and lesbians to federal anti-discrimination law.

“If true, this decision was made without consultation with leaders of the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community,” the statement read.

Signatories included leaders of PFLAG, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Stonewall Democrats, Lambda Legal, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and the AFL-CIO’s Pride at Work, among other groups, as well as the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Mara Keisling.

Human Rights Campaign spokesman Brad Luna confirmed that House leaders were likely to consider a bill without trans protections.

“HRC is deeply disappointed and did not assent to this position,” Luna said.

Adamske said that putting a trans-inclusive bill on the floor for a vote could result in a bruising debate that would make it very difficult to revisit the bill.

“The one thing we don’t want to do is embolden the enemy,” he said of Republicans who might be looking to exploit the vote as a wedge issue.

From a joint statement (as quoted in 365Gay.com):

Our organizations oppose the removal of protections for transgender people from ENDA. We would also oppose any employment nondiscrimination bill that did not protect transgender people,” the joint statement said.

While we don’t doubt the sincerity of congressional leadership’s intent to take action and be helpful to the LGBT community, we cannot disagree more with this strategy. We will continue to work with LGBT-supportive members of Congress to urge their colleagues to immediately drop this strategy.

The Advocate reported:

Earlier in the day, shortly after reports of the change originally surfaced on the Washington Blade’s Web site, LGBT advocacy groups fired off statements of disapproval.

“If media reports from the last 24 hours are accurate, it is unconscionable that congressional leaders would rush to a decision to strip protections for transgender people at the same time as states across the nation are adding these protections at an unprecedented pace,” said Matthew Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Foreman called it “incredibly ironic” that the House is considering such a move on the same day that the Senate voted 60-39 to allow a voice vote on a trans-inclusive hate-crimes bill. The House has passed a hate-crimes bill twice that included gender identity.

The National Stonewall Democrats put out a statement echoing Foreman’s sentiments, adding, “We would oppose any bill that did not protect transgender people.” Eleven other organizations signed on to the statement: Empire State Pride Agenda; Equality Texas; Garden State Equality; the Mautner Project; National Center for Lesbian Rights; National Center for Transgender Equality; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; National Stonewall Democrats, National Coalition for LGBT Health; National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects; Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; and the AFL-CIO’s Pride at Work.

Noticeably absent from the group that stated “We would oppose any bill that did not protect transgender people” is the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The HRC’s HRC Back Story page has no story up as yet on the possible removal of transgender protections from the ENDA bill being considered in the U.S. House.

Emphasizing this point, Chris Crain (former Executive Editor of Window Media), in a Citizen Crain blog entry entitled Is ENDA about to go trans-free?, stated:

Missing, of course, are our friends at the Human Rights Campaign, even though the HRC board voted during Cheryl Jacques’ tenure to take a similar “trans or bust” stance on ENDA.

Fortunately, Barney Frank and the House Democratic leadership are more realistic politically and hopefully HRC’s usual pragmatism will keep it on board, even if trans protections are removed. If HRC holds tough, no one will sing their praises higher than your’s truly, though to me the decision is a political, moral and civil rights no-brainer.

As a transwoman, I’m reminded of a Martin Luther King Jr. quote:

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

With regards to ENDA, I hope we hear exactly what the HRC will or won’t support very soon. The silence is deafening.


~~~~~
Further reading:
* Transadvocate: It’s Put Up Or Shut Up Time
* Bilerico Project / Matt Foreman: A non-transgender-inclusive ENDA? No way!
* Transgriot: Political Good News-Bad News
* Press release: Nine national LGBT advocacy organizations issue collective call for
gender identity to remain in Employment Non-Discrimination Act

~~~~~Update 1~~~~~

I received an email update from Cecilia Chung this evening from her personal e-address (not her business eaddress):

Dear Friends:

We just got confirmation this afternoon that the leaders in the House of Representatives have indeed stripped gender identity from ENDA. There is still time though for you to join me and contact all the democrats in the House, especially the leadership:

Speaker Pelosi
California-8th, Democrat
235 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515-0508
Phone: (202) 225-4965

Barney Frank
Massachusetts-4th, Democrat
2252 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515-2104
Phone: (202) 225-5931

George Miller
California-7th, Democrat
2205 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515-0507
Phone: (202) 225-2095

It is imperative that we demonstrate unity and urge the Speaker to put gender identity back in the bill.

She included links to three articles.  Here’s the jist of what’s going on from Rep. Barney Frank, as told by the Bay Area Reporter:

The federal trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act that has been a centerpiece of LGBT legislation for the Human Rights Campaign and other gay rights groups appeared headed for collapse in the House of Representatives Thursday, September 27 with a plan by gay Congressman Barney Frank to introduce two versions of the bill – one addressing sexual orientation and one addressing gender identity.

…Foreman said that according to what he was told, the gender identity bill would be “left on the table,” meaning it would not be passed now.

There was no answer in Frank’s Capitol office late Thursday afternoon. A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

A message left for HRC was not immediately returned.

Asked if the recent developments were a surprise, Foreman said, “Yes, we were caught off guard by this.”

…Frank told the [the Washington Blade] that “the notion that we should let the whole bill die if we can’t pass [a] transgender [provision] is a terrible idea. It’s exactly the opposite of what the civil rights movement always did.”

The other two articles Ceclia linked to were ones linked to in my original post: the 365Gay.com article, and The Advocate article.

~~~~~Update 2~~~~~

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting this morning House cuts transgender people from hate crimes bill:

Even as the Senate passed a hate crimes bill sought for a decade by gays and lesbians, House Democratic leaders decided Thursday to strip transgender people from another long-languishing civil rights bill, generating dismay in the gay community and furious but fruitless lobbying for more time.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Reps. George Miller, D-Martinez, Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., believe they lack the votes in the Democrat-controlled House to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if it includes gender identity along with sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for firing an employee.

Frank and Baldwin are the only openly gay members of Congress.

People now accept the fact that we just don’t have the votes for the transgender,” Frank said.

Nervous Democrats had been hearing about Republican amendments to the employment bill, Frank said, “that would talk about schoolteachers, and what happens when the kid comes back from summer vacation and teachers change gender. We just lost enough Democrats and we couldn’t be sure of the Republicans.”

…Some gay activists said Democratic leaders were worried that including transgender people in the employment discrimination bill would expose conservative House Democrats to a tough vote.

Frank dismissed that charge as “stupid.”

They had no idea what they were talking about,” Frank said. “We put them to a vote on transgender hate crimes. We’re going to put them to a vote on sexual orientation. The problem wasn’t that we were afraid of it. We just didn’t have the votes.

To those who argue Frank and other Democrats were caving in by dropping transgender people from the employment discrimination bill, he said, “Have they been living in Sweden and thinking they were in America for the last 20 years? We’re going to go ahead with sexual orientation for the first time in American history. Why would timid people be pushing people to do that?

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