Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

How To Get ENDA Moving Again

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | November 30, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act bill (ENDA), which was originally planned for a House vote in September or October, then November, now looks like it's headed for a February landing. That's problematic because it puts ENDA into the Senate during an ultra-difficult time: a major legislative logjam, a major jobs initiative, midterm election campaigns, and a promised Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal.

The House Committee responsible for moving ENDA along, the House Committee on Education and Labor, has been slow-walking it, claiming that it needs some minor "tweaks" on language that has been vetted for years. Rex Wockner's blog today features quotes from some high profile activists questioning the delays, including political consultant Steve Hildebrand and former National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin has also been quoted as saying that delay is not good.

Meanwhile, community action calls to Committee Chair George Miller of California over the past week have been unsuccessful in obtaining any statement or action. However, under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives [see page 8, section c(2)], three members of the Committee can demand a markup, which must be scheduled within three days. (Update: DC friends advise that it would be best just to ask for the markup, as this rule might be seen as "mutinous.") The names of friendly Committee members are provided after the jump so you can call and demand action.

A nation-wide community conference call has been scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, Dec. 1st, at noon (ET) to discuss actions we can take to push a vote on ENDA now. It will last one hour. The agenda is posted after the jump. All are welcome, and I hope you will join us. Register here.

Demand Action!

Look at which of the following members of the House Committee on Labor and Education are in or near your state. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask the House operator to connect you to one of the Representatives listed below. When you get their office, here's what to say:

"Please tell Rep. ___ that I would like him/her to ask Chairman George Miller for an immediate markup on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HR 3017"

You should probably repeat the message so the receptionist can get it all down. You might want to ask them to repeat it back to you to make sure they got it all. These offices are busy places, and sometimes they might not write down the whole message.

I have bolded the names of members who are worth an extra call, as I think they might be most sympathetic to calling Chairman George Miller to get this moving.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ)
Rep. Judy Chu (CA)
Rep. Susan Davis (CA)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA)
Rep. Joe Courtney (CT)
Rep. Jared Polis (CO)
Rep. Mazie Hirono (HI)
Rep. Judy Biggert (IL)
Rep. David Loebsack (IA)
Rep. Phil Hare (IL)
Rep. John Tierney (MA)
Rep. Dale Kildee (MI)
Rep. Dina Titus (NV)
Rep. Carol Shea Porter (NH)
Rep. Robert Andrews (NJ)
Rep. Rush Holt (NJ)
Rep. Donald Payne (NJ)
Rep. Tim Bishop (NY)
Rep. Yvette Clark (NY)
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY)
Rep. Paul Tonko (NY)
Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH)
Rep. David Wu (OR)
Rep. Todd Platts (PA)
Rep. Joe Sestak (PA)
Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (TX)
Rep. Bobby Scott (VA)

Agenda for Tomorrow's Community Conference Call

Here's what is planned for tomorrow's community conference call at noon (ET).


Opening conversation and intro info about MaestroConference features

Todd Fernandez of Equality NYC: Greetings, outline of call, poll questions

Dr. Jillian T. Weiss: Status briefing, suggestions for immediate actions and intro to open discussion

Open group discussion and input on possible "group actions"

Breakout into 4 facilitated action sessions to coordinate "group actions"

Reports from breakout sessions on commitments to group actions.

Invitation to join online groups

Call to action and close

I hope you will join us. Register here..

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Thanks for the post Jillian! I just called Rep. Woolsey. You might want to correct the phone number though - I believe it's (202) 224-3121.


While I respect your commitment and enthusiasm - at some point isn't this counterproductive? Almost delusional?

The truth is there are not sufficient votes in the Senate to pass ENDA (or DADT and DOMA Repeals). Suggesting that more phone calls will help only turns well meaning efforts into failure.

You keep promoting the myth that anti-gay beliefs are changeable - IF ONLY enough people would contact their elected officials. It's absurd.

We should find something productive to do, something that will actually make a difference. Asking people to repeatedly bang there heads against a wall - no matter how many times you thank them - doesn't move the wall.

I have a saying you just might want to take to heart.

"There is no shame in failure, but there is in failure to try."

We're going to try.

But if you're going to try, wouldn't your efforts be more rewarding if you were to try something with an actual chance for success?

What makes you so absolutely positive there is no chance? I don't buy the words of naysayers when it comes to this. Why not tell us the real truth on why you don't want to help. I see nothing but smoke screen here. Same with Andrew.

What makes you so absolutely positive there is no chance? I don't buy the words of naysayers when it comes to this. Why not tell us the real truth on why you don't want to help. I see nothing but smoke screen here. Same with Andrew.

What makes you so absolutely positive there is no chance? I don't buy the words of naysayers when it comes to this. Why not tell us the real truth on why you don't want to help. I see nothing but smoke screen here. Same with Andrew.

And one for Monica and her fellow head-bangers:

“All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”

- Winston Churchill

Thank you Jillian! I appreciate your efforts and will continue to call and lobby. Don't give AndrewW's comments a second thought. He illustrates exactly why our community is in this position. Clearly calls, e-mails, postcards, letters and personal visits DO matter. Thats why this legislation stalled out. Because our opponents get off their ass and badger the heck out of our lawmakers. So they get skidish and start backing off our bills. We sit back and armchair quarterback our own communities efforts, and can't wait to be the first to say 'I told you so." Sad.

We must have a united voice.

Sorry, these politicians minds were made up a long time ago. Please don't continue to repeat the mantra:

"Clearly calls, e-mails, postcards, letters and personal visits DO matter."

Please provide some evidence that politicians "finally give in" and change their minds (regarding gays) based on harassment. Because if what you say is true, we simply need to make more calls. That seems easy enough. We could all call 10 times, right?

Please, try to face the reality of the "beliefs" of these politicians regarding us - it is religion. Until you get God to make a call or send an email - they won't change their position. Your only hope is to replace them or change the minds of their constituents.

So, instead of calling politicians, call your neighbors. If you have extra time call folks in Alabama - they really need some persuasion.

AndrewW -

The movement definitely needs wise and innovative ideas... lay'em on us :-)

But it seems the movement is working many strategies at the same time, and they don't have to be mutually exclusive.

This push on ENDA is open to new ideas on strategy - come join the call - but for this one, we need to stay very focused on the task at hand as agreed upon up front - to Push that Vote in the House now.

We can debate whether this should be part of our overall agenda in another call. This all came about because we were in the planning stages for a virtual conference to discuss movement stragegy. This is where these types of broader issues can be discussed. We can discuss Omnibus, Civil Rights, National media, cultural efforts, all sorts of new ideas... anything.

You're welcome to help put that together.

For now the idea is to reinvigorate the incremental strategy, start a national dialog gradually, and see where it goes once we're really discussing this movement openly and with broad participation.

Love to hear your thoughts on it all - [email protected]

I agree that we desperately need a unified strategy for the LGBT Community. My comments above are simply the reality of winning in this Congress. We can't get anything "gay" past the Senate. Calls, emails, letters and lobbyists DO NOT move the anti-gay opinions of politicians.

So, I asked a valuable question? Should we keep beating our heads against that wall or re-direct our efforts? I prefer the latter.

I have studied the history of our movement and I can tell you the worst thing we have done over the years - "false hope." When we enroll people into our struggle and have them believe their efforts can actually change "votes," we set them up for failure and we extinguish some of their hope. After a while, they're all out of hope. This helps explain why only 10% of our community participates in our negligible "movement." We will need everyone participating in order to win - that will require hope. Plenty of hope. I believe that hope will only be generated when we begin to think we can win. To that end, a winning strategy would be helpful.

I appreciate the invitation to share ideas and I will correspond via email.

We absolutely need to focus on "winning." Jillian knows I appreciate her efforts, but she also knows that I believe everything we do should be subject to honest, objective analysis and accountability. The sooner we put everything on the table and create a strategy to actually WIN - the better off we'll be. Right now we're not creating equality and we're losing hope.

Some of us feel that way about the marriage campaigns , Andrew. You feel otherwise. I personally consider employment protections crucial in this economic environment.

Well Maura, I wish the votes were there for ENDA. They are not.

I also don't think it is comparable to marriage campaigns - in those cases the "public" got to vote. We got real results, real information. People had to actually take a stand - yes or no, unlike our politicians.

We also got a lot of participation. Our brothers and sisters in Maine and California would suggest it actually felt like a "movement." People haven't felt like that in a long time.

The cheap shots at "marriage equality" are about money and resources, not strategies. ENDA efforts don't need more money, they need more honesty.

Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | November 30, 2009 9:36 PM

It ain't over till it's over.


Can you clarify what alternative you are suggesting? Do you think there is a more effective way to change politician's minds? Or do you think there is a more effective way to equality other than politicians? And if so, what?

Personally, I think a movement is most effective with as many kinds of tactics being engaged in at once. I don't believe legislation will save us and spend a lot of my time on alternative strategies. However, I do believe legislation can be a part of it. And as far as legislation goes, this is our best bet. There's a good chance that there are the votes to pass it. Even if it doesn't pass, getting a vote on a trans inclusive ENDA would be historic, and provide us with practical information about who we can target (for persuasion, pressure, and/or ousting).

As it is, this rallying call to contact representatives isn't even about getting them to change their minds -- it's about getting already supportive representatives to push it through committee so there can be a vote. That's a kind of persuasion that calls can actually effect. And getting the vote, even if we lose it, would be a victory. And reviewing Jillian's chart, it looks like we have a pretty good chance of passing it.

Please provide some evidence that politicians "finally give in" and change their minds (regarding gays) based on harassment. Because if what you say is true, we simply need to make more calls. That seems easy enough. We could all call 10 times, right?

Yes. Exactly. Evidence? Our opposition. They out game us every time. The politician's 'finally give in' to their demands. We don't speak loud enough or with a unified voice. Also without ENDA protections many in our community fear losing their jobs so we have 10% participation. More evidence? How about the time I spend in lawmakers offices with their staff and legislative/military liaisons. They tally calls and record the callers position on issues, and use that data to take a position.

My suggestion to push for ENDA to be rescheduled for a committee vote is a meeting with Chair. Miller. Their are 31 co-sponsors in a committee of 49. That's pretty good odds. The House has 192 co-sponsors right now. Now is an opportune time to move it thru. We have 43 Senate co-sponsors and I think passage in the House will help motivate the Senate. Both bills have Dem and Republican support.

T2inDC said:

"The politician's 'finally give in' to their demands."

That's simply not true. It's as bad as the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" call to arms. The amount of "noise" doesn't change anyone's mind.

Politicians are elected with their beliefs abouts gays. These beliefs are "religious" based and non-negotiable. In fact, you can predict what most politicians believe based on their denomination. The only place that changes is in States where religion is less important - like New England.

Have a look:

Members of the 111th US Congress:
Mormon (13) 100% Anti-LGBT
Seventh Day Adventist (2) 100% Anti-LGBT
Presbyterian (48) 75% Anti-LGBT
Protestant (45) 75% Anti-LGBT
Baptists(73) 74% Anti-LGBT
Methodist (53) 74% Anti-LGBT
Christian Scientist (3) 67% Anti-LGBT
Lutheran (23) 61% Anti-LGBT
United Church of Christ (5) 60% Anti-LGBT
Episcopalian (40) 56% Anti-LGBT
– - – - – - – -
Eastern Orthodox (8) 50% Anti-LGBT
Catholics (161) 43% Anti-LGBT
Unitarian Universalist (3) 33% Anti-LGBT
Jewish (44) 14% Anti-LGBT
Unaffiliated (9) 0% Anti-LGBT
Buddhist (2) 0% Anti-LGBT
Quaker (1) 0% Anti-LGBT

The entire Congress is 57% Anti-LGBT,
but the Senate is 64% Anti-LGBT (the big problem).

For those of you that believe Democrats are ALL on our side, the truth is 28% of Democrats are Anti-LGBT. 88 of the 317 Democrats in the 111th Congress.

Most of the Democrats that are Anti-LGBT are from States where at least 60% of their constituencies make religion "important."

Most of the Democrats that are Pro-LGBT are from States where less than 60% of their constituencies make religion "important."

If either the politician makes religion important, or his/her constituents (+60%) make religion important, they will be Anti-LGBT.

Sen. Kennedy was very Pro-LGBT. In the State of Massachusetts only 48% make religion important. He was one of many Catholic Pro-LGBT politicians from States in the New England and the Northeast that DO NOT make religion important.

Part of our challenge is to understand the fact that politicians beliefs are immovable or non-negotiable. We have only made progress by replacing politicians. It is very rare when a politician changes their mind regarding our community. Usually it is about the changing dynamics of their State or District and not enlightenment, numbers of calls, emails or visits.

We need to develop new ideas to change the political reality we face as a community. We are calling the wrong people.

It appears that people who have no history of ever doing anything to help the entire LGBT community, or have no way of allowing us to correlate that they have ever helped, are telling people who are helping daily that they shouldn't try. They have no proof of what they say but their opinions. They have no hope and they have no facts to back them up.

Not even a majority of people in the LGBT community wants to get married, can afford to get married or care about getting married. Very few people in the LGBT community are wealthy enough, or own their own business to not give a damn about ENDA. Most people in the LGBT people care about having and keeping their jobs.

Marriage don't mean shit when you can't put food on the table, or even have a table to put the food on. People who can put food on the table and never experienced that problem can sometimes be blind - or uncaring - to those who can't. We see that in the negative comments on Bilerico all the time when it comes to ENDA.


ALL opinions aside, wouldn't you agree that it is better to ask for help, instead of accusing others of "not helping?"

I agree that many issues do not get enough attention or support, but anger and blame do not inspire people. In many ways we are ALL frustrated and disappointed about LGBT Equality and our stalled movement. We need to remember that we all have the same goal - equality. Somehow, we all need to pursue that goal together, as best we can.