Marla R. Stevens

ENDA on the Agenda -- again

Filed By Marla R. Stevens | March 30, 2007 10:47 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Politics, The Movement, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: civil rights, Congress, Elizabeth Birch, ENDA, gender identity, Hilary Rosen, HRC, LCCR, legislation, LLDEF, NAACP, NGLTF, PFAW, Ralph Neas, Sexual Orientation

If and when ENDA passes, it will still be legal to fire on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity between eighty-eight and ninety-two percent of the workers in the thirty-three states that do not have state legislation covering both sexual orientation and gender identity workplace civil rights. It will also be legal to fire on the basis of gender identity the same percentage of people in the nine states that have sexual orientation protection without covering gender identity.

And it won't cover what is in many states -- Indiana included -- the housing discrimination that has historically been the greatest source of discrimination complaints by gay people. Nor will it cover public accommodation or credit.

In other words, ENDA sucks.

What is needed at the federal level is amendatory legislation covering the 1964 Civil Rights Act and subsequent legislation such as that dealing with housing and disability rights. We started out with amendatory legislation with Rep. Bella Abzug's landmark bill decades ago. The history of how we got to this sorry state of affairs is long and full of cowardice, poor strategic thinking, and outright treachery. Many of the interorganizational issues that led to dropping amendatory legislation and pushing ENDA instead have been resolved but, somehow, the nearly useless trash that is ENDA lives on. I won't bore you with the details here. Action is what counts.

Ask your favorite national civil rights organization(s) why they are pushing a bill that is little more than pointless window dressing -- why they are indicating by their actions that full civil rights protections are good for other minorities but that we should settle for just a fraction of it. Demand that they drop ENDA and fight for real civil rights protections instead.

Explain to your Congressional delegation that voting for ENDA is a nice but functionally nearly empty gesture and ask them to insist on being able to vote for a comprehensive, amendatory civil rights bill covering sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination instead.

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Thanks for the info on ENDA, since I think I speak for a lot of LGBT people in saying that I thought that it was like the employment part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I always enjoy reading your posts, Marla!

Marla R. Stevens | March 30, 2007 3:34 PM

Thanks, Alex. The feeling is mutual.

ENDA is nothing if not one giant carve-out -- the legislative equivalent of Swiss cheese after a pack of rats has gotten through with it. It was drafted anew and intentionally crafted so as not to be related to any existing civil rights laws.

As if the surface reading stuff in it wasn't bad enough, it takes a pretty thorough knowledge of (or a great deal of research about) the interrelationships between the statutes it references to be able to figure out its real world effects.

Add to that that the organizations representing you federally have abrogated their responsibility to properly inform you of its reality when asking for your support, not to mention that they ought not to be supporting something so damaging in that its passage will remove the pressure for a decent solution to the discrimination problem while not providing one.

In other words, don't feel bad for not knowing it is junk.

Marla R. Stevens | March 30, 2007 3:40 PM

By the way, my tendency is to be conservative with figures such as those in my post. The coverage levels could go as low as five percent on the face of it or, in practical application, given that the ones thinking so little of us as to want carve-outs in the first place are the ones more likely to discriminate, the coverage could actually sink lower than that.

Think of it: all this sturm-und-drang could end up being over something with virtually no practical application at all!