CommunityPam's House Blend

Please Tell Me The Dots Don't Connect Like They Appear To Connect

The Washington Blade is reporting it:

Representatives for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have told the Blade that she is committed to a House vote on ENDA sometime in September or October. Pelosi is being honored Oct. 6 at HRC’s annual national dinner.

A San Francisco Chronicle blogger — Carolyn Lochhead — has reported that there is a connection to the HRC’s October 6 national dinner honoring Speaker Pelosi and the rush to pass any form of ENDA in the House of Representatives:

The decision by House Democratic leaders yesterday to dump transgender people from a civil rights law protecting gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination has put the Human Rights Campaign in a terribly awkward position.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is to be the guest of honor at the HRC’s big national dinner Oct. 6, where she is to be feted for her accomplishments on behalf of gay people.

The HRC gala could help explain the sudden rush to push the long-languishing Employment Non-Discrimination Act, known as ENDA, through the House next week — even if it means throwing transgender people off the bus.

The move has generated outrage in the gay rights community — with the notable exception of HRC, which so far remains silent, refusing to return repeated phone calls. Sources say HRC has scheduled and cancelled at least two emergency board meetings over threats by some board members to quit if HRC endorses the new ENDA bill, sans gender identity protections.

Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Massachusetts Democrat who takes the lead on gay issues, said Thursday that Democrats lacked the votes to pass ENDA with gender identity provisions, presenting Democratic leaders with the choice of either pulling the bill or having it fail on the floor.

…The rush to pass ENDA in the House seems odd, however. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., has not even introduced a companion measure in the Senate, having just passed a hate crimes bill by a hair — getting the bare minimum 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

The hate crimes bill includes transgender people, but as House Democrats concede, it is much easier to pass a law punishing people for clubbing transgender people with a baseball bat than it is to require employers to hire them. Hence it is unlikely that ENDA is going to get through the Senate anytime soon.

But Frank said Democratic leaders had to dump trans-gendered people from the ENDA in order to pass it in the House. The decision came after strategy sessions involving Frank, Pelosi, and Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who chairs the committee that will mark up the ENDA bill Tuesday.

The HRC Executive Director, Joe Solmonese, needs to clearly and concisely explain what’s going on. Is the Democratic House Leadership really going to dump transgender people from ENDA so that Speaker Pelosi will have a big accomplishment to tout to the folk at the HRC fundraiser? If that’s true, is the HRC assenting to being used this way by Democratic House Leadership?

Any way one looks at this, Representatives Frank, Pelosi, and Miller have taken steps that they should have been aware would severely divide the LGBT activist community. If this division was initiated just to have some form of ENDA passage to tout at an HRC dinner, then the splitting of the community over transgender employment protections was done for politically unconscionable reasons.

Again, if this is all true, the HRC would appear to have been used, and would be continuing to be used to further Democratic House Leadership aims, when instead the HRC is supposed to be functioning as the America’s largest LGBT Civil Rights leader — on behalf of all LGBT people.

Please, HRC, please tell my transgender peers and me that the dots don’t connect like the dots appear to connect.  Tell me here that what the former executive director said was the right thing to do in 2004 is still the right thing to do in 2007, and that a fundraising dinner doesn’t change that basic principle.

Cowardice asks the question – is it safe?
Expediency asks the question – is it politic?
Vanity asks the question – is it popular?
But conscience asks the question – is it right?

And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Autumn Sandeen

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