Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Calling Speaker Pelosi: Time to Move ENDA

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | March 11, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

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

We in the LGBT community have been made many promises. We have been patient, more or less, although somewhat mystified as to why our legislative agenda has not really moved much beyond passing ONE bill (the hate crimes bill, which, while important, will affect very few people).

Meanwhile, the people of Virginia are up in arms over their new Republican Governor refusing job protections for gay workers in public employment. People were marching in the streets over there. The Governor has been busy backtracking.

But in the rest of the U.S., where job protections for LGBT workers is non-existent on the federal level, where frustration on the part of LGBT citizens is beginning to boil over, where we have to hide and duck and lie about our sexual orientation and gender identity or accept unemployment and underemployment...in that alternate universe, the Democratic Speaker of the House from San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi, is stomping on our rights by refusing to move ENDA.

It is time to start calling the office of Nancy Pelosi, and demanding that she move ENDA (HR 3017). Her office telephone number is 202-225-4965.

Word is trickling out of Washington, D.C. that the big holdup is not Chairman George Miller, in whose House Committee ENDA is currently languishing. Chairman Miller is ready to move.

The big holdup is not Representative Barney Frank, who has been championing ENDA since its introduction in 1994. He has promised a House vote in March, and he is standing firm on that promise.

No, the big holdup is the Speaker of the House, Democrat of San Francisco. According to reports from D.C., although her office is saying that she supports the job protections of ENDA -- she is actually telling Chairman George Miller and Representative Barney Frank that she does not want ENDA to move because it will interfere with health reform.

Some of you may ask why I don't give her email address. The reason is that it is time for you to get off your keyboard and start taking actions that count. Emails don't cut it. If you want job protections, you had better learn to ask in real time, where legislative votes happen. They dump those emails into the sea. Receptionist time is valuable.

202-225-4965. Punch those buttons.

It is time to call, and it is time for direct action. Citizens of San Francisco, where Speaker Pelosi holds her base of power with the consent of the large LGBT community there, it is time to start talking to your Representative.

Yes, DADT repeal is important. But in case you haven't noticed -- they are lining up to make sure that it doesn't happen this year, talking about year-long studies and military opposition. Sure, let's kick ass and take names to move that along. But don't drop the bird you've got in the hand.

That's their old trick -- the same trick I used use on my toddler 17 years ago. When he cried because he wanted a toy he couldn't have, I would start singing, or tickling, or making funny faces. It worked, because he couldn't hold his attention for more than two seconds. He literally forgot to cry. The public is the same way.

They are standing in the corner, singing about ducks or some other interesting nonsense, putting their underwear on their heads and making their eyebrows do fascinating things probably not intended by nature. Pretty engaging stuff, oh yes. But don't be fooled. You're not getting that damned toy.

Let's start calling Speaker Pelosi every day until we hear that the vote is moving forward. I will continue to write on this topic every day until I hear that the vote is moving. Sure, let's lobby our local Congressmembers too. But we've got enough votes in the House. What we need is spine in the leadership.

202-225-4965. Punch those buttons.

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I will call again.

But, as a matter of wording, I wouldn't call this "direct action." I personally believe that real direct action is going to be required to make progress.


Thank you for your efforts on ENDA. While we may differ on tactics, I applaud your dedication and energy, and wish this effort well.

I agree with you, Joe, this isn't direct action. I hope we will have some soon.

Jillian, I almost think you're wasting your time with her. Pelosi was my congressional representative for 14 years and I can honestly say she's a highly ineffective, totally non-responsive machine politician who, because she's a shoo-in for re-election, puts literally no effort to push much of anything. She's a main reason for much of the logjam the demos are having in congress (along with Harry Reid). There have been protests at her SF office almost continually since she's been speaker. Fortunately, I moved to a different neighborhood and now have Jackie Speier as my congresswoman, who is kick ass and feisty but doesn't have seniority.

Well, Gina, I understand your point, but I am going to do my darndest to make her listen. I'd like your help too, even if you're all cynical and everything. Push, darn it, puuuuush!

Widely reported in December, 2009 Speaker Pelosi promised not to introduce anything controversial unless the Senate acted first:

"According to Democrats who have spoken to Pelosi, the Speaker has expanded that promise beyond immigration, informing Democratic lawmakers that the Senate will have to move first on a host of controversial issues before she brings them to the House floor.

“The Speaker has told members in meetings that we’ve done our jobs,” a Democratic leadership aide said. “And that next year the Senate’s going to have to prove what it can accomplish before we go sticking our necks out any further.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the president of the freshman class, said that Pelosi came to last Wednesday’s freshman breakfast to deliver that message, and that it was met with wide spread approval."

Link: http://thehill.com/homenews/house/72461-pelosi-to-shield-vulnerable-members-from-tough-votes

First, the assertion that emails are useless, but "receptionist time is valuable" is silly, but at least we're disposing of the idea that emailing politicians has any value. Last week we disposed of the idea that lobbying was effective. So, we're making some progress.

Second, by asking people to push Pelosi, while the US Senate is a dead end for all LGBT issues, you are asking people to run a race knowing there is a firing squad at the Finish Line. You are providing false hope and ensuring that people will simply become even more frustrated and less likely to participate in our movement. That hurts us all.

If we are honest and objective about tactics and we recognize the very real roadblock called the US Senate, we can instead seek useful, effective ideas to make progress. We can ask people to do something valuable.

If you insist on making calls, call your neighbors, friends, co-workers and even strangers and ask for their help. Because, until we do that, we'll continue wasting time, energy and money on the false hope politics.

Okay, Jillian, I called. Twice.

The first time I was immediately sent to the black hole of voicemail. So, I called back and said I didn't want to leave a message, I wanted an answer to a very simple question. I asked "is the Speaker holding ENDA Legislation because there isn't support in the Senate?" He said, "yes" and "the Senate is a big problem."

He would only identify himself as an "aide," and that he couldn't actually "speak for the speaker." I appreciated that phrasing.

He then asked me if I "would you like to leave a message?"
I replied "why?" and he said "okay."

The rumour is... now covering post-ops only, with the initial position having been post-ops and those with carry letters from medics.

Neither of which covers Intersexed people of course, but they may have recourse under the ADA.

Jillian, any info on this?

I do not have any reliable info on this. My feeling is that I will not abandon the effort to get job protections based on rumors. If the language comes out, and it is unjust, I will fight to get it changed.

These people ( Pelosi & Reid ) cannot steer health care through when they had a super majority and with it being about the number one priority of the Democratic party, what hope do we really have seeing ENDA passed? Frankly they are perhaps the two most ineffective people in Washington. They took a mandate, and wasted it doing almost nothing. I say almost because I suppose they did pass the Hate Crimes Bill, but as I recall they attached that to something else over the protests of the Republicans. I will call, for what good it will do but in all honesty I believe it is as the old saying goes, like water running off a ducks back.

Dr. Weiss, I'm kinda confused. You've said here that:

I do not have any reliable info on this. My feeling is that I will not abandon the effort to get job protections based on rumors. If the language comes out, and it is unjust, I will fight to get it changed. Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | March 12, 2010 10:29 AM

but here you say:

If you all think we have had a problem, just wait until you see the new language in ENDA that separates the transsexuals from the transgenders. Hold on to your hats. Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | March 9, 2010 5:34 AM

Which is it? You seem to be contradicting yourself from three days ago. Three Day Old Weiss seems to have heard the same confirmation I've heard from the Hill concerning the ENDA language.

Can you clarify please? If we wait to question the language until it comes out, all the lobbying done at NCTE's lobby day will support whatever language is in the bill after markup. You can't unlobby a bill. Am I missing something here?

Yes, I did hear that the new language is problematic. However, until it gets approved in the markup, it is not official language, and we can change it. I'm not willing to hold back on ENDA, either on moving it forward, or on making sure this bad language does not get into the bill. I empathize with your position that we should not be forced to lobby on a bill while secret language is held over our heads. But my feeling is that if we don't lobby, there will be no markup. Job protections are too important an issue to hold back. If we can move it forward, we can also fight the bad language. I could be wrong, but that's how I feel.