Guest Blogger

A Call for Congressional Leadership and a Word on Barney Frank's ENDA Compromise

Filed By Guest Blogger | April 16, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Barney Frank, civil rights, Ed Fallon, ENDA, gender identity, House of Representatives, Iowa, Leonard Boswell, LGBT community

Editors' note: Guest Blogger Ed Fallon is a candidate for US Congress in Iowa's 3rd District. He's a former state legislator and is known widely for his 1996 speech in opposition to Iowa's anti-gay marriage bill. He faces Representative Leonard Boswell in the June 3rd Democratic primary.

Ed headshot.jpgLet's be frank. Unless we elect a progressive Congress, the debate over which Presidential candidate best represents the GLBT community may be futile. Without leadership for full equality in Congress, the issue may be placed on the backburner. The new President will have to struggle with a war in Iraq, a stagnant economy, and a healthcare system that's in shambles. It will be the task of the GLBT community and pro-equality advocates in Congress to make sure equal rights is a top priority in the next administration.

That's why I'm concerned with the compromise on the Employment Non-Discrimation Act (ENDA) pushed by Barney Frank and supported by my primary opponent, Leonard Boswell. Leaving gender identity out of ENDA is a compromise that I'm not willing to support. The move splinters the GLBT community and falls short of the goal expressed in the original version of ENDA -- to protect ALL members of the GLBT community from discrimination in the workforce. Barney Frank has been leading the charge for the non-inclusive bill and he will be visiting this district this weekend to raise funds for my opponent in the Democratic primary. This is a case of status quo political maneuvering at its worst.

I admire Barney Frank and the courage he's shown as an openly gay man serving in Congress. I met him and his partner in 1996 when I was in Washington DC to testify before the House Judiciary Committee against passage of the Defense of Marriage Act. But political strategy should never be a cover for promoting anything less than full equality. In raising funds for my opponent, he demonstrates the reflexes of an entrenched politician to support the incumbent regardless of the quality of the candidates. I've been a vocal supporter for full equality throughout my political career, while my opponent has a very mixed record on GLBT issues.

As a state legislator in 1996, I received national attention for my speech in opposition to the proposed gay marriage ban and in favor of full civil marriage equality. I felt it wasn't enough just to voice my opposition to the ban. I was compelled to go further and to cast GLBT equality in its proper light as the defining civil rights issue of our time. Because of my leadership in the Iowa House, I was invited by Representative Frank to advocate against DOMA in Washington DC later that year. I'm heartened by the progress that has been made in the last decade or so, culminating with last year's with a pro-marriage equality ruling by the Iowa courts. Going forward, the GLBT community needs non-wavering advocates in Congress who will promote full equality.

Leonard Boswell's Human Rights Campaign congressional scorecard for the last 3 terms shows his record on equality ranks just below that of former Iowa Representative Jim Leach (R). My primary opponent can be applauded for votes against the federal marriage amendment and in support of hate crimes legislation. Yet, his lack of past leadership on issues like repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, immigration laws that include same-sex partners, and his current compromise on ENDA call into question how forcefully he'll seek full equality for the GLBT community.

I'm honored to have the grassroots support of many GLBT activists in my district. I also appreciate the endorsements by eQualityGiving and Democracy for America earlier this year. Yet, I'm facing a close race against an entrenched and well-funded Washington insider. I won't accept special interest or lobbyist money as a matter of principle, while my opponent has built his war-chest by relying heavily on these donors.

Please consider contributing to my campaign today. Send a message to Barney Frank and Leonard Boswell that you want a Congress that is fully committed to equality for all. When it comes to matters of equality, I'll never compromise.

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Your opponent has a lower rating than Leech & Rep. Frank supports him? Mind boggling. Has HRC endorsed you?

This is exactly the kind of candidate (and with the exact type of opponent) that progressives should support. My admittedly modest contribution is on the way.

Thanks future Rep. Fallon.

I wish you the best in your race. We need people like you, not practitioners of HRC-think.

I'd like to say I'd vote for you if I was still living on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, but even then I was in Rep. Loebsack's district (which I am HAPPY is no longer Jim Leach's) and later in Rep. Braley's (which I am HAPPY is no longer Jim Nussle's).

I know...technicalities.

Serioualy, though. I wish you the absolute best.

I'm a transgender woman but I'm not a single-issue voter. Honestly, ending the occupation of Iraq and providing universal health care are very very high priorities for me and are more important to me than whether ENDA passes with or without gender identity protections. Passing an inclusive ENDA is important too, don't get me wrong. What I am reacting to is the idea that as LGBT people, we only care about LGBT issues, or as trans people we only care about trans issues, and that this is what politicians are pandering to. As a human I care about human issues, and I will vote for candidates who resolve to work to make things better for all of us humans.

I think you'll like Ed's positions on these other progressive issues, Vivian. Check out his website for more info on those issues.

We have 3 Blue Dog dems here in Indiana that I'd love to see a true progressive run against. Unfortunately, the true progressive wouldn't win. :(

Bil, I went to his website and you are right -- I like his positions a lot and hope he wins! We need more people like him in Congress if we want to really change things.

Please take my rant as a rant against single issue politics in general, not as a rant against progressive politicians.

Marla R. Stevens | April 17, 2008 5:28 PM

Ed is all those things Vivian cares about and Boswell's not. In fact, Boswell, in his position on the House Intelligence committee, has a long history of supporting Shrub's neocon policies of pre-emptive war, torture, rendition, and other erosions of the Bill of Rights, choosing only, for instance, to vote for the weakest habeas corpus reinstatement possible (after voting to zap it altogether) and only when his loathesome votes earned him progressive opposition.

Send Ed money. His polling numbers say he can win if he gets the money to necessary to fight the good fight.

If you think this is just an Iowa thing, think again. An active, pro-gay straight guy from the Midwest who's not afraid to speak his mind and who consistently does the right thing would do wonders for us all.

Imagine how things might have gone differently, for instance, if there had been someone in the freshman caucus able to say, from experience, that fears about voter backlash on gender identity inclusion were unfounded, or someone who can articulately explain -- and regularly does to everyday folks -- that civil unions cannot ever be equal to civil marriage and with the same live-it-as-he-calls-it honesty as he supports public transportation and eating local foods to save energy -- as a straight guy ... from the heart of corn and pig country.

He's the real thing. Phyllis and I have no reservations -- except maybe to bring dinner weekly to his campaign workers!

Submitted today to the Des Moines Register:

Every good soldier knows you don’t leave a man down on the field--everyone it seems except Boswell and the glib Barney Frank. The two old war horses got together this past spring to do Nancy Pelosi’s bidding disguised as a gay civil rights vote (ENDA), thinking those who’d benefit were fools enough to think that throwing the neediest of us, the transgendered, under the bus, would get the newly dysfunctional shell of a bill passed into law. Instead, the gutted, gutless bill died in the Senate as predicted, doing a great deal of harm to the LGBT community to boot.

Boswell’s designated April 19th as payback time. In other words, Frank’s the guest at a Boswell pony-up party. But it’s just going to be a festival for out-of-touch has-beens. Iowa has already bitten the gender identity inclusion bullet and knows it’s not the poison pill Frank and Boswell treated it as.

Frank and Boswell are quite the matched pair—two congressmen too long in office who are out of touch with their constituents, who engage in dirty tricks and old style politics only to leave the job undone. Why would self aware LGBT people – or anyone who cares about civil liberties, for that matter – be for Boswell when they have a proven champion in Fallon……why indeed.

Joe Basoer | April 18, 2008 1:33 AM

We need more people like Ed Fallon in Congress. The current folks like Mr. Frank (sadly) care more about buddy politics than about creating a more equal, just America. We need to join together and speak with our wallets and hearts to create a better country for generations to come. I hope others will follow my lead and donate what they can to oust Fallon's status quo opponent.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | April 18, 2008 1:21 PM

Regarding single-issue queer politics:

It's not that I don't care about other things -- I put plenty of time and effort and treasure into other issues.

But, if we don't care enough about ourselves to put those issues we face -- entirely worthy issues -- first -- literally to take our issues seriously enough to put them at the head of the line, then how can we expect others to?

I repeat that our issues are very serious ones -- at the cutting edge of social justice so much so that, when our issues are resolved, it benefits others significantly, too.

When people have to stop and consider us, they have to stop and consider the meaning of what it is to be human and what it means to be compassionate and just even with people others might be uncomfortable about or feel significantly different than. To do so cannot help but increase the general peace and justice in the world. (And, while not always the case, more often than not, the people who stand for us are pretty darned good on many other things, too.)