Well, another week has gone by in what is rapidly becoming The Never-ENDA Story. A lot has been going on, and the historical significance really cannot be overstressed. Never in the history of the GBLT movement has ENDA received so much attention and action; in thirty years of struggle, it has never before been this close to actually being vetoed.
Over the past week, activists have made phone calls, staged protests, written letters and lobbied almost nonstop for a fully-inclusive bill. A line has been drawn in the sand, and we have stood up to our leadership and declared that a divided ENDA is an unacceptable compromise of our principles. It does not reflect our values as a community, and we do not endorse it. And our leadership has heard us. They have heeded the will of the people, and after much deliberation have declared that tough noogies, they’re doing it anyway.
Incidentally, I’m not generally one to spread rumors, and lord knows I have no proof of this, but I have it on pretty good authority that, prior to revising the bill, Barney Frank made some hefty investments in the makers of Zantac and Pepto Bismol. I’m just saying, that’s all.
Still, there is a contingent within the community that feel the pro-trans-inclusive side are being “selfish” by demanding the original bill be kept intact. The argument is with trans-inclusion, ENDA is bound to fail a vote, and the whole community would be held back unnecessarily. And to tell the truth, while I still disagree with it, I can see where this argument comes from; and if the bill had a snowflake’s chance in hell of going all the way, it is an argument that would need to be addressed.
But let’s not kid ourselves; trans-inclusive or not, anything GBLT-related that gets anywhere near the White House is going to get stomped down faster than you can say “circular file”. I mean, this is George Bush we’re talking about, here: the man just vetoed children’s healthcare, for crying out loud. He’s like the villain in Oliver Twist. He’s sure not going to show the love for his queer peeps.
So, let’s review: in the past few weeks Barney Frank has crippled a vitally important bill, opened up a huge rift in the community, put everyone at each other’s throats, unleashed more animosity and malice within the community than we usually get from the outside, and pretty much guaranteed failure for both versions of a bill that nobody ever seriously expected to be signed into law in the first place. This, as I understand it, is called “Taking a principled stand.”
And so it goes. ENDA-lite is scheduled to be introduced to committee this Thursday, but Speaker of the House Pelosi has has promised to hold a floor vote on the full version just as soon as political support is there—that is, when mainstream acceptance of transgendered individuals has reached the point where most people are okay with hiring them. That’s an interesting strategy for you: don’t pass the law until it’s not needed anymore. Well, you can always count on today’s Democratic Party to do the Right Thing. Or at least the middle-right.
In any case, ENDA is down but not out. No time period has been established for adding Gender Identity back in, but it is tentatively scheduled sometime after the Final Trump. Still, as Barney Frank has pointed out, even getting a stunted, crippled version of ENDA within striking distance of the veto pen is still a victory, of sorts. But then, you have to wonder about a man for whom even symbolic victories are Pyhrric. After all, he was instrumental in the passage of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, a compromise bill whose author believed it would last “five to ten years”.
That was nearly fifteen years ago, but no doubt he’s working on it.