Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Let's Tell Chairman George Miller to Move ENDA

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | November 24, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, George Miller

Representative George Miller is the chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor. His Committee was supposed to markup the Employment Non-Discrimination Act last Wednesday and move it to the House floor for a vote. Thumbnail image for Move it or lose it!Instead, he has decided to hold ENDA in Committee to "tinker" with language that needs no tinkering, with no guarantee that it will be rescheduled in December. Meanwhile, there is a legislative logjam waiting to break loose in the Senate, a major new jobs initiative coming, another LGBT bill on domestic partnership benefits for federal employees edging ahead of ENDA, midterm election campaigns in which 4 Senators we need are going up for re-election, and DADT promised for Spring/Fall 2010. I've discussed this in detail here and here.

There's a lot of big players coming at us rapidly from downfield. It's "move it or lose it" time.

Chairman Miller's reasoning for the delay? At the last minute, he has decided that the language, introduced last year and again in June, now is suddenly vulnerable to conservative judges. The changes he's suggested are unnecessary, as I have previously discussed in detail. He also thinks that it will be no problem to move ENDA into the Senate in the Spring.

With all due respect to Chairman Miller, and knowing that he is committed to ENDA, I do not understand his strategy. It is unconscionable that the bill has not yet been rescheduled for a markup.

If you value ENDA, please call the Committee on Education and Labor now, and ask that ENDA, HR 3017, be rescheduled immediately for a markup the first week in December.

Let's do this for two days - Tuesday and Wednesday, to give enough time to for everyone to come on board. Here's the number - dial early and often: House Committee on Education and Labor: 202-225-3725. (You can also call the toll free DC Capitol line and ask for the Committee: 866-220-0044)

There is also a petition to sign online: click here.

More info after the jump.

There's no need for Chairman Miller to wait until this "tinkering" is done in order to put the ENDA markup on the schedule. I mean, how long is this going to take? You've already had more than a week since you postponed it. Put it on the schedule now for the first week in December.

It's not just me who thinks that delay is a bad idea. The Advocate reported that Representative Tammy Baldwin said that delay is not good.

Another setback for the legislative agenda was the postponement of a committee vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. While the delay appears to be a function of wrangling over hypertechnical legal language rather than substantive changes to the bill, the House ENDA vote could still move into next year, possibly as late as February, according to Rep. Barney Frank.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin this week acknowledged that no delay is a good delay.

"I think there's an absolute advantage of having it happen this year or as early as possible next year," she said of a full House vote on ENDA.

With all due respect to Representative Baldwin, "early as possible next year" means February, which would put ENDA into the Senate in the Spring. That timing does not look good for the reasons I stated above: a legislative logjam waiting to break loose in the Senate, a major new jobs initiative coming, another LGBT bill on domestic partnership benefits for federal employees edging ahead of ENDA, midterm election campaigns in which 4 Senators we need are going up for re-election, and DADT promised for Spring/Fall 2010.

Let's take today and tomorrow to demand that the markup be rescheduled immediately for the first week in December. Perhaps then we will have something to give thanks for.

Here's more contact info for Representative Miller. Call early and often. Please ask him to immediately reschedule ENDA, HR 3017, for a markup the first week in December.

DC: 202-225-2095
(Toll free DC Capitol line: 866-220-0044)
Richmond, CA 510-262-6500
Vallejo, CA 707-645-1888
Concord, CA 925-602-1880
(Click here for email)

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Will definitely call, thanks.

This is a little offtopic but I have a question which I am not sure makes sense. I firmly agree ENDA should be able to move forward sooner rather than later in the House even with these amendments being made, I don't see why the Senate can't move forward as soon as it has time even if the House gets delayed, and I think we should try, as you suggest, to get the House to move forward in December. But I'm trying to think ahead in terms of what happens if that doesn't work, and even if it does work the Senate might be tied up in health care stuff for months. So here is what I am wondering: As you note, Congress' next big-ticket priority after health care is likely to be a jobs bill. The White House will be holding a jobs "summit" in December. If worse comes to worse and ENDA does get delayed until February, that would mean work on the jobs bill will very likely begin before ENDA passes.

If this happens, or ENDA seems to be having trouble passing on its own, would it make sense to try demanding that ENDA be rolled into the upcoming jobs bill? Or trying to link the two together such that Congress might consider passing ENDA standalone in the House (where it is assumed to have easier passage) and attaching it as an amendment to the jobs bill in the Senate?

Again I would much prefer ENDA be passed alone and quickly, but this is a strategy which is being tried elsewhere-- rolling an LGBT rights item into a larger reform as a "make sure everyone benefits from this" thing. For example Immigration Equality recently switched tacks in this fashion, and in addition to calling for UAFA to pass (which frankly doesn't seem to be having much luck by itself) have started calling on committee members to roll UAFA-like provisions into the comprehensive immigration reform bill which it is looking likely will be first considered next year.

Could an LGBT representative, for example, somehow get into the WH jobs summit (though I don't know how important this "summit" actually is)?

More phone calls, huh? More lobbying?

When will we learn?

Thanks, Andrew. Exactly. I'm so done with these hypocritical, lying BSers. Done, done, done.

The alternative is to honestly assess our struggle, fairly analyze ALL of our strategies and tactics and then CREATE A WINNING STRATEGY. Nothing should be continued simply because "that's the way we've always done it." Or, the much worse "we don't have a choice."

We need new thinking, new ideas and new strategies. By default we keep doing the same things over and over. We keep getting mislead by elusive "political solutions" that still don't exist. We went through the same thing with Bill Clinton. We should have learned. Changing the "leader" wasn't enough. We have to change the game - we need to change the strategies.

I suggest we start over. We must objectively analyze all our "favorite" tactics, we must tell the truth - no matter how painful or upsetting the consequences, and we must look for answers. Answers we can't see now, because we keep fooling ourselves with old ideas or we simply settle for the purported reality of "one of these days."

We need to "change." The goal needs to be "winning," not just playing. If our tattered and tired community actually believed we could WIN - it would change everything.

After 40-50 years of the same tactics, with very limited results, we should understand the honest cynicism that exists. We keep losing. It will continue - unless we change.

We gotta give 'em hope. Obama hope (or hype) wasn't enough. We need real hope.

If we truly want equality, we must stop fighting and start creating. We must accept the responsibility of creating what we desire and stop betting on the false hopes of "politics" or the LGBT Rights "establishment." We must be able to answer "when" we will achieve our equality - a question HRC and the Democrats refuse to answer.

We need to start over, benefiting (honestly and objectively) from the years of hard work and sacrifice by many, but also seeking new, innovative ideas. "Same old," is.

Our equality exists in the minds of our fellow citizens. We do nothing about that, except "wait." Many of us are tired of waiting and tired of losing. From that frustration we must find inspiration. We must figure out how to "win."

That is the conversation we need. And, we need it yesterday.

You could begin by imagining the following:

If our equality was being held hostage and the ransom was $1 billion - we would figure out how to pay for it, ALL of us would contribute. Knowing it actually existed or was a very real possibility would inspire us all. We don't have that now.

We need an LGBT strategy and plan to WIN.

i have a bit of access into the committee that is moving this bill, and if i can get some information as to what is up i'll post it here.

i won't hear anything until at least tomorrow afternoon eastern time, but as soon as i can, i'll let you know if i learn anything useful.

so i did get a response back, but i get the impression that it's indeed something they perceive as a language and technical cleanup issue.

i also recieved this very official comment, for attribution, from rachel racusen, house ed & labor committee communications director:

"We are continuing to work with key groups and stakeholders on details of the legislation. We are committed to marking up a strong and inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act that finally gives every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender worker the long overdue right of equal treatment in the workplace."