Main | Tuesday, November 06, 2007

ENDA+T Coalition Unravels

It was nice while it lasted.

Led by the HRC, the coalition of progressive and labor organizations supporting a trans-inclusive ENDA has significantly unraveled. Joining the HRC in an open letter to Congress in support of a trans-less bill: the NAACP, the National Education Association, the National Employment Lawyers Association, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees, and other groups. The AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers Union have sent similar letters of their own.

HRC head Joe Solmonese called the move a "pragmatic and strategic decision." Earlier today, the HRC released a poll which claims that 70% of the LGBT community now supports ENDA without gender identity protections. (I'm guessing that not many T's were polled.)

Fearing a voter backlash in 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been under intense pressure from junior Democrats to not allow a trans-inclusive bill to come to a vote. On Monday, the Rules Committee agreed to send ENDA to a floor vote, with three amendments attached. The first amendment, which adds gender identity protections back in, is now unlikely to be considered. The other two amendments address White House concerns about religious exemptions and DOMA.

(Via - &

UPDATE: An excerpt from today's HRC Backstory blog...
While the bill Congress is set to vote on a non-inclusive ENDA is not what we wanted, the Human Rights Campaign decided to stay at the table with Congress to fight for the best bill possible, and because passage of this legislation is a first and absolutely necessary step toward preventing discrimination based on gender identity.

Throughout this entire struggle, the Human Rights Campaign has been guided by the principle of equality for all. We’ve also been guided by the need to navigate potential roadblocks in order to achieve that equality and we’ve tried not to get ourselves boxed into a corner -- especially if that corner opposes progress.

We believe that staying at the table and negotiating in support of the best possible bill is better than simply walking away. It isn’t right and it’s a disappointing reality of how politics works but if we are going to win we can’t ever be disillusioned by letting the perfect get in the way of the good. But, without a doubt, the only path to achieving a bill protecting our whole community is by achieving a successful House vote tomorrow. A defeat of ENDA tomorrow would set back the possibility of an inclusive bill for many, many years.

Moral and principled advocates for equality can disagree on strategies but we should never question each others commitment to the common goal of equality we all share. We hope that our partners in the ongoing fight for equality will join with us in this step forward and not seek to divide us.

The Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition and their allies would like nothing more than for our movement to fail, and for ENDA to die in this Congress. To stand idly by and let that happen would constitute ceding ground.

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