Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Congress to Gays: LA-LA-LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | December 04, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

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

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

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Sadly, Jillian, I think we're being intentionally ignored/avoided for political purposes and I think we're going to have to make our point to these people the hard way.

Congress is still playing by 2007 rules, we're not. It's time to teach them the new rules in a way that they won't soon forget.

I don't like it, but based on what we're seeing now I no longer believe we have any other viable choice.

Jillian said:

"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."

Yes, seven whole days.

"What's the point of lobbying a Democratic majority that won't listen?

Good question.

Andrew/travis, I see you are still working hard for the award of "The Most Negative Gay Man on the Planet." You got my vote.

Is that it Monica? Is that all you've got?

You really like baiting people. You appear to be a Master at it.

1. Jared "the millionaires have suffered enough" Polis is progresive?

2. I was busy last week calling the New York State Senate telling them to bring up the marriage bill for a vote. Now I have time to call George Miller to tell him to bring up ENDA immediately.

I'm wondering if folks, Democrats, are being held hostage by the GOP like in the days when Clinton and Bush W. were in office. IN both cases the GOP was controlling what was going on in Both Houses and if the Dems didn't toe the mark they wouldn't give anything. We need to get to what's behind the delay!

I agree, we need to find out what is dehind the delay. I have a suspicion that HRC cut the deal to delay.

Haven't we already blamed HRC? You may as well blame Santa - I'm not sure anyone else is left.

Among our circle of friends are families from Germany and Iceland. When we discuss LGBT issues
with them, they continually comment on how backward
the United States is.

twinkie 1 cat | December 5, 2009 8:51 PM

I think right now they are so wrapped up in health care and Afghanistan that they are not thinking about anything else. Plus the Senate cannot afford to alienate the moderate Democrats until health care is passed. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana was recently given $300,000,000 to boost a Medicaid shortfall the state was having due to having gotten extra money after Katrina. She is one of the key moderates. She was thought to be endangered in the last election but made it through and now is safe for 7 years. But she needs to be persuaded to open up. Being a liberal politician in Louisiana is almost as much of a death penalty as being homophobic politician in Atlanta.

But they need to do something soon as we could possibly lose the House in the midterm elections and loose some important representatives. Getting rid of DADT should be presented as an excellent way to get more soldiers for the Afghanistan surge.

Sadly as far as most elected officials are concerned, bills for LGBT people have all downside and little upside to them. Our numbers are such that we can be ignored without a great deal of concern unless it is a very close re-election. then they might throw us a small bone. Besides it is a choice right? Or that is what most believe, so if we want we need only stop wearing dresses to work to get employed right? Furthermore, ENDA does not garner the positive headlines like health care or war spending. It creates political baggage to be dealt with at home for most of these talking head politicians to try to spin free from. With higher unemployment rates among us we are also not generally the group that spends 25k per plate on dinners to listen to these guys speak while collecting thousands of dollars for their re-elections. They have staffers screen our calls and read our emails so they do not have to deal with them or even more likely interns.

If I were playing the game from there side, and not personally invested in this issue, I can tell you how it would likely get played out. They will postpone and postpone. Then they will try a last minute charge that will fall short for lack of time. That way they can say they tried and some might believe they did. They will then be able to tell the big money people back home they did not get that legislation passed and that the business owners will not have to worry about hiring us freaks for another year or more.

I was hopeful a few months ago. I wrote the emails and letters. I watched the number of likely votes raise for passage of ENDA. However now that the weather is such that brightly colored tee shirted marchers are unlikely to be showing up on the TV screen and celebrities making great sound bitss for 10 eecond news videos we are again forgotten. We are not a big dollar issue and we know how Washington is run by money. So it really means we are pretty much boned once again. I personally will be shocked if ENDA is passed. After all they gave us the right not to get killed this session of congress. No point in sticking their necks out too far after all.