LGBT organizations have stepped forward to add their voices to those of LGBT citizens, allies and progressive groups calling for moving the Employment Non-Discrimination Act forward. But no amount of lobbying can make a difference if Congressman George Miller of the House Committee on Labor and Education chooses to ignore us.
After all, it's been almost a month since rumors surfaced of an ENDA delay, and three weeks since he abruptly cancelled the ENDA markup hearing, and he has made no statement on why or how or when or what, except to list three minor language tweaks. On November 17, the day after the terse postponement notice on the Committee's website, the Advocate stated "The ENDA markup will likely be delayed for two to three weeks, according to a Hill staffer, and should be rescheduled for sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday." Sometime, indeed.
Nor have we heard a peep from the other progressive members of the Committee - people like Rep. Jared Polis, one of three openly gay Congressmembers, or Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Chair of the Subcomittee on Workforce Protections, or Rep. Yvette Clarke, or Rep. Rush Holt or Rep. Andrews. And where are Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the other openly gay Congressmembers, to inquire into this delay or question it or demand that the Committee move forward? Speaker Pelosi, who is a close friend of Rep. Miller, also hasn't Spoken.
Are we not making our voices heard? Or are our voices being ignored?
What's the point of lobbying a Democratic majority that won't listen? And President Obama -- it's time to start putting some of your people to work with Congress on ENDA, because Congress is not getting the job done even through there are enough votes there to do it. It's not votes they're missing, it's courage, and the audacity of hope.
It's not for lack of trying. LGBT organizations and allies are out there pitching their hearts out. We recently saw a combined call for Congress to pass ENDA from the National Stonewall Democrats, PFLAG National, NCLR, NGLTF, Out & Equal, NCTE. HRC put out its own call as well, and is running teams all over the country to lobby in weak districts. The AFL-CIO and more than 50 major civil rights organizations have called for its passage. Major employers and many small businesses have signed onto a statement supporting it. More than a dozen major religious organizations of all creeds support it. What's going to happen to DADT and DOMA repeal if this is the response to our calls for ENDA?
We're talking to you. Can you hear us?
Chairman Miller, I call on you to make a statement about this delay in a major job protections bill.
Representative Frank, I call on you as the lead sponsor of this bill to make a statement as well.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Rep. Jared Polis and other progressive voices on the Committee, it's time for you to be heard.
You've challenged us to speak up about this. We are. Now it's your turn.
UPDATE: Later today, another strong statement was issued by leaders of over a dozen groups, urging Congress to quit stalling. The organizations represented were the ACLU, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Equality Federation, Family Equality Council, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality, International Federation of Black Prides, Lambda Legal, Log Cabin Republicans, National Black Justice Coalition, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Coalition for LGBT Health,
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Stonewall Democrats, National Youth Advocacy Coalition, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, PFLAG, Pride at Work AFL-CIO,
and the Transgender Law Center