Alex Blaze

Tammy Baldwin on upcoming legislation, Gordon Smith on John McCain

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 14, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Center for American Progress, ENDA, Gordon Smith, hate crimes legislation, John McCain, lesbian, LGBT, lgbt legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Tammy Baldwin

Here's Tammy Baldwin on upcoming LGBT legislation, from the Washington Blade via Pam:

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) made the comments today at a Center for American Progress forum geared toward highlighting the importance of the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act, which would grant the partners of gay federal employees the same benefits that are available to the spouses of straight counterparts.

...Baldwin said she is "very optimistic" that ENDA and a hate crimes measure would pass Congress next session, particularly if Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, who has supported these initiatives, take the White House.

The congresswoman also said she expects progress on the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act, which has not moved this session from the House and Senate committees to which it had been assigned.

But Baldwin said the success in "repealing discriminatory laws" already on the books "is a little less clear."

"I think we will see more discretion on those - whether or not it can move to next level of repeal will be a challenge," she said.

I'm guessing she means the sexual orientation only version of the ENDA will get passed this year. I agree - if it actually does get through the Senate (and after November the majority will most likely be friendlier), there's no way a president Obama will veto it, trans-inclusive or not.

"Repealing discriminatory laws already on the books" probably refers to DADT and DOMA. The former shouldn't be all that hard if Democrats make a credible effort; DADT is polling pretty badly. DOMA will be a harder piece of legislation to get rid of.

And she continued after the CAP discussion:

Baldwin told the Blade she did not "have a perfect crystal ball" for what would happen in the next Congress, but said she thinks it would be easier to "hit the ground running" with ENDA and a hate crimes measure as opposed to other initiatives.

She noted that Congress has already taken some action on ENDA and hate crimes this session, so lawmakers are familiar with those issues and more willing to take up the matters again next year.

Baldwin also said there are difficulties in repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act because some of the lawmakers who voted for these measures in the 1990s are still in Congress.

So there we go.

The generally queer-friendly and anti-war Gordon Smith (R-OR) was also at the discussion. He talked a bit about McCain:

Smith, who was recently endorsed by Log Cabin Republicans, said McCain has "been with [him] on a number of gay and lesbian issues," but did not during the panel discussion mention any issues they agreed upon.

"I know John McCain's heart," he said. "I just never found John McCain really hard over on these issues -- or ideologically driven on these issues."

Of course he's with us on a number of issues! That number happens to be zero, but it's still a number!

I'm not saying that he's ideologically driven. He can't even decide what church to attend; he's not a Christian hard-liner.

But it's pretty obvious that he's willing to pander to anyone who'll vote for him, and he's sought out the endorsements of the Religious Right by promising everything from no peace in Israel to more Alitos and Robertses, from overturning Roe to making sure no LGBT legislation gets passed.

Personally, I don't care why he's not going to work with us, just that he's not going to work with us.

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Though the enactment of ENDA will play better with the LGB community (Since the T's do not count in Queer politics, at least to the HRC and Congressman Frank), the repeal of DADT would in fact be better in changing the cultural milieu surrounding LGBT's in general. If we cease to be marginalized by the Federal Government as far as military service, the arguements against our equality are substantially weakened overall.

The Hate Crimes Act ought to come next; how many news reports do we have to see about killers getting slap on the wrist sentences for murdering us for being ourselves before we make this a higher priority than a divisive ENDA that not only leaves the T's behind, but tells the American public that even we did not think them worthy of inclusion?

There is a side effect from the repeal of DADT that even Barney can't screw up. Several trans people have been kicked out under DADT and many more have been asked if they were gay by commanding officers. The repeal of DADT will protect the majority of trans people who get caught or found out in the military. All they will have to say is, "This means I'm gay and I can't be kicked out for being gay anymore." Most ignorant commanding officers will believe that and leave that person alone. They will be able to talk to the military doctors about their gender issues without being afraid the doctor will rat on them. The repeal of DADT will also be good for our trans people in the military.

There has been a discussion of Representative Balwin's statements over on Pam's; I expanded my comments on DADT and would like to include them here as I hope that other people will appropriate them freely and use them. So, for your entertainment and hopefully for your political use, here it is(hopefully improved by editing):

Repealing DADT is a vital first step since it would be an end to federal discrimination against Queer individuals in the military. It parallels Truman's intergration of the Armed Forces.
Once we are equal as far as the military, other forms of discrimination against us get far harder to sustain. The Christian Right realizes this, hence Elaine Donnelly's unending diatribes. And this is the point that they are indeed the weakest upon.

Opening the Armed Forces to qualified, out gays and Lesbians has the advantage of being indefensible to oppose at a time that our Army needs every qualified person. It gives Liberals of all parties the high ground of possessing the "weakening our war agaist terrorism" arguement to throw into the faces of the conservatives, a weapon that we have rarely possessed.

"You oppose letting ALL qualified individuals into our armed forces? Well, I guess that you don't mind weakening the war on terror or endangering our troops. Which American cities are you willing to sacrifice just to keep gays and Lesbians form serving nobly in uniform?"

Can you see Obama throwing that into McCain's face in a debate? It would be priceless.

Maura Hennessey
The Lesbians: Changing America One Toaster Oven At A Time.

Sorry Monica.

Buit to continue....this arguement gives us the advantage and claim to improving our military, particularly after the vehicle armour, body armour, GI Bill, and felons in the military fiascoes by the GOP.

Let's use this.
We can get huge traction on this.

"Are you really interested in our military, Senator McCain? Because from where I am sitting it looks like it is just a vehicle for Republican political strategy. And American Men and Wome's blood is just too precious a thing to spill to win votes."

It works and has the advantage of being true.....

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 14, 2008 5:54 PM

Personally, I don't care why he's not going to work with us, just that he's not going to work with us.

I both agree and disagree with you here. That McCain is against LGBT equality is most important, but the fact he seems eager to pander to the Religious Right out of political expediency rather than some misbegotten-but-deeply-held moral belief makes me despise him more.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 15, 2008 1:52 AM

Tammy Baldwin is trawling for votes, dragging bait through the water. If she wasn’t a Democrat she might actually hook someone. But with that kind of party as lure she’s unlikely to get much of a catch.

Her party won Congress two years ago pledging to end the war but didn’t even try: instead they refused to impeach Bush and always vote to fund it. They continued tax cuts for the rich and support the extension of NAFTA. They refused to repeal DOMA and DADT, not at all surprising since a majority of them voted for both.

Despite the menacing rise of beatings and murders Democrats disgracefully discarded the hate crimes bill. In spite of the fact that discrimination, lower wages and bad working conditions remain a fact of life for millions of GLBT working people they assigned Democrat Barney Frank, the quisling, to gut ENDA. Baldwin herself voted for the worthless version of ENDA if I’m not mistaken.

Baldwin's in the same party as Democrat Diane Feinstein who led the charge in the senate to seat racist and bigot Leslie Southwick to the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Southwick, opposed by People for the American Way, the HRC and the Congressional Black Caucus, is infamous for a ruling exonerating a EuroAmerican who called an AfricanAmerican fellow worker a “good ole ni**er”. Southwick upheld the opinion that the use of this epithet was only “somewhat derogatory”. Democrats cast the deciding votes to seat him.

The problem for Democratic supporters is that they’re caught in an unending cycle of compromise and they always end up with candidates who turn out not to be such a lesser evil after all. Like Clinton was and like Obama will be. What they're left with is a party that’s far to the right of working people and of our GLBT communities. That's why people don’t vote for either party and the only reason why rancid reactionaries like the Republicans have a chance to win elections at all.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 15, 2008 2:50 AM

Alex, wonderful post. Maura, excellent points! Brynn, are you looking for a politician who is honest or a result?

When a politician is stating something we like, they are pandering to us, just as much as the toothless are being pandered to by the religious right Pols. The important thing is that after this election there be fewer of their panderers and more of ours with a president in place who will not veto the changes. That congress has been wise to this point, not to waste time on what it cannot accomplish, is to it's credit.

Presently in South Korea 80,000 demonstrators are threatening to bring the government down. This because they have agreed to import American Beef again due to their fears of mad cow disease. This lunacy may well cost the president his job and all that I can think is: "if you do not want it don't buy it."

If our government became so easily changeable I have great doubts over our economic, social, or military stability. A lot of people would needlessly suffer who should not over the actions of zealots who act without measured thinking.

As a constituent of Gordon Smith, I can say he has lost virtually all credibility with local LGBT folk. There once was a time when the radical queer and trans folk opposed his anti-environment, anti-worker policies but acknowledged his support on queer issues and the HRC regularly endorsed him. But in the last 6 years he's made it clear where his loyalties are and even the HRC doesn't seem to want to endorse him anymore.

He will symbolically support non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation, but is putting less and less energy into passing those. Meanwhile, he will vote for the one-man-one-woman federal marriage amendment, and oppose all other forms of LGBT legislation. If he and McCain agree on a number of the issues, it would be that queer people shouldn't have the right to relationship recognition, and trans people are so insignificant that their inclusion in bills doesn't matter.