More ‘Colorado = Reality’

(Thanks to Pam Spaulding at Pam’s House Blend for posting on this. )

Jared Polis, an out gay man is running for Congress in Colorado.  Over at Daily Kos, he has some thoughts on T-inclusion in ENDA.

Why are we even having this discussion? When Colorado passed a statewide ENDA last session, it included gender identity without a murmur. Specifically, our Colorado Senate Bill 25 defined sexual orientation as “a person’s actual or perceived orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status.” Some legislators supported it and some opposed it, but none cited the gender identity issue as the reason for their opposition. The very fact that the issue of excluding gender identity is being raised at the national level demonstrates the paramount importance of including it.

    I am sick and tired of hearing our DC leaders say that an inclusive ENDA cannot pass. Who are the US Representatives who would vote to eliminate workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not gender identity? Are there any? Let them step forward so we can focus on changing their minds and their hearts. Their position makes no sense.

    Ending workplace discrimination only for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals but not transgendered Americans would be the equivalent of passing a civil rights act that prevents only discrimination against Latinos and Asians, but not Blacks. Because the groups left behind are a smaller percentage of the population, it will be more difficult to ever include them.

    Let us be honest; the gay and lesbian communities are better organized, larger, and stronger than the transgendered community. If the bulk of the gay community gets their protection through a narrow ENDA bill, it will be much harder to ever include gender identity. As a gay man, I want nothing more than to end workplace discrimination nationally. But my hands will not be soiled with the guilt of undermining our real chance to protect the rights of our whole community including those who defy prevailing gender stereotypes.

Pam’s thoughts on this:

I think the solid point of argument here is which faction is right on a key point — will the LGB community —  with the financial and political clout the trans community lacks — continue to fight as hard for Ts when and if an orientation-only ENDA passes? Observing human nature, I’d say no. If people don’t have a personal stake in a political issue, it is more difficult to focus attention, resources and effort. As I’ve noted before, there are plenty of potential LGBT allies woefully undereducated on the issues — it’s simply not on their radar. It’s not a stretch to imagine that the same will occur in the LGB crowd, actually it’s easy to believe, given the unseemly amount of hostility toward the trans community that has come to the surface in the debate over ENDA.

I think Pam’s being too diplomatic (though perhaps necessarily so.)  How much of a stretch is it to imagine things like:

  • Wisconsin,
  • Massachusetts,
  • New Hampshire,
  • Hawaii,
  • Connecticut,
  • Nevada,
  • Maryland, and
  • New York?

I don’t need any imagination at all.

I’ve been to all of them except Hawaii.

I’ve lived next door to Wisconsin since 1999.

And –  I know what the history is in all of these places of trans issues being ignored – and then forgotten.  Its what the Aravosisists, the Carpenters, the Crains and – no matter what its weather vane indicates on any given day – it is what HRC wants at the federal level for ENDA.

If we don’t get Colorado Reality, we’ll get Wisconsin Reality.

And I don’t have 25 years of working life left.

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