Main | Friday, September 28, 2007

T-Minus ENDA

Over on AMERICAblog, John Aravosis' readers are discussing a trans-free ENDA. I brought up the issue yesterday, but I think Aravosis' talking points are worth taking a look at.
Kill ENDA if gender identity is not included
The main argument here is that we shouldn't leave a portion of our community behind. We'd never pass ENDA if it only included lesbians but left behind gay men, so why pass it if it doesn't include transgendered people? The underlying assumption here is that gender identity is the same thing as, or close enough to, sexual orientation as to make gays, lesbians, and transgendered people all one family.

Pass ENDA even if gender identity is not included
Depending who you speak to, there are various arguments here. The first is that it's better to take half a loaf than nothing. The second is that the gender identity issue is new to the game - gays and lesbians have been lobbying for decades to pass this legislation, gender identity advocates have not been lobbying, have not been a serious movement, nearly as long. Thus, their time will come, but it's not time yet. And a third argument is that gender identity has nothing to do with sexual orientation, so what is it doing in the bill at all?
Aravosis says he isn't revealing his position, he doesn't want to "prejudice the discussion" on his blog, althought I think you can see a hint in what he thinks in the way he worded the above. I've made my own views clear, both in the post linked above and in the donated ads here on JMG, which I solicited from the HRC, ACLU and the NGLTF. Still, I can see some validity in positions other than mine, as much as I think they are ultimately wrong.

ENDA is inarguably the most important legislation in the history of the LGBT movement. My greatest fear is that due to this transgender issue, we may unravel our precariously knit coalition of gay rights groups at a time when we need solidarity more than ever before.

UPDATE: Rep. Barney Frank has issued a lengthy statement on the issue. An excerpt:

"We are on the verge of an historic victory that supporters of civil rights have been working on for more than thirty years: the passage for the first time in American history by either house of Congress of legislation declaring it illegal to discriminate against people in employment based on their sexual orientation. Detracting from the sense of celebration many of us feel about that is regret that under the current political situation, we do not have sufficient support in the House to include in that bill explicit protection for people who are transgender.

The question facing us - the LGBT community and the tens of millions of others who are active supporters of our fight against prejudice - is whether we should pass up the chance to adopt a very good bill because it has one major gap. I believe that it would be a grave error to let this opportunity to pass a sexual orientation nondiscrimination bill go forward, not simply because it is one of the most important advances we'll have made in securing civil rights for Americans in decades, but because moving forward on this bill now will also better serve the ultimate goal of including people who are transgender than simply accepting total defeat today." (Via - Bilerico Project)

And a trans-less ENDA becomes a fait accompli.

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