Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Are the Democrats Running a Con Game on ENDA?

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | May 14, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Bay Windows, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA

Bay Windows newspaper published an article yesterday noting that Capitol observers suggest that the Democrats are running out the clock on ENDA. con-man.jpg

"The community and the movement have done everything we've been asked to do," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, this week...We've worked and worked and gotten sufficient votes to make sure gender identity stays in the bill," said Keisling, "but the bill is not being prioritized."

Let me say it more honestly than Ms. Keisling can, because she has to work with these duplicitous political types. This involves a technical term: The Democratic leadership is screwing us. If they can get away with it. This abstruse argot, with which some readers may not be familiar, can be explained by an analogy. Remember rentboy.com? We're the rentboy. And the check's in the mail.

If we call them on it, of course, they'll just huff and puff a bit and say they were coming to it, if we'd just give them a chance, don't we know there are more important things going on in Washington?

GetEqual, we need you! Thankfully, they've scheduled a May 18 protest and rally at Pelosi's SF office. Tell your SF friends.

More from Bay Windows:

Mara Keisling of NCTE wasn't the only Executive Director on the loose. Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said, "We have heard that the official whip is completed and that there are enough votes to pass ENDA in committee and in the House, which tells us that our vigorous lobbying and grassroots engagement efforts are being effective."

"Leadership needs to do the right thing, right now," said Carey, "and schedule a markup and pass an inclusive ENDA."

However, Barney Frank's office immediately went on the offensive and explained the whole thing away, making the executive directors look a bit silly and hapless. Through a spokesman, Frank had no new information this week about when a vote will happen. And then they slammed the phone down. (Remember the good old days, when one could slam the phone down? Now you'd just wind up with silicon breakfast cereal.)

According to Bay Windows, a senior Democratic aide said that Democratic leaders would likely be discussing timing next week and there should be "more clarity" on timing "by the end of this month."

End of the month? I thought they said end of April, after Easter recess? For that matter, I thought they said September of last year. It's obvious these politicians are trying to slink out of a vote, for themselves or for the Senate.

I can just hear them in the smoke-filled backroom now. "Let's go easy on this one, boys. Let's run the old 'you hold the money' trick. That's always a good one. Or if that doesn't work, the 'melon drop'. Those suckers never learn."

Meanwhile, according to Bay Windows, the remaining days in which the House can vote on anything are ticking away -- House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's legislative calendar shows a total of 48 full days for voting and 14 part days before adjournment and mid-term elections.

So, asks Bay Windows, if the votes are there and a vote has been promised, why hasn't a vote happened yet?

People on the Hill who are close to the action offer several explanations, though none would do so with their name attached. One said Democratic leaders worry about a repeat of last week's debacle on a bill to encourage homeowners to adopt energy-saving measures. The bill passed the House 246 to 161 but not before Republicans attached provisions that could prevent it from being successful. One amendment requires that it cannot go into effect unless supporters can prove that it will not add to the deficit. Another amendment requires that contractors participating in the program ensure that they do not have any sexual predators among their employees.

Oooh, those pesky Repubwicans! The Democrats are chomping at the bit to get gay rights done, but can't because of the sneaky Republicans....yeah, that's the story.

"But Keisling said these types of efforts are simply part of the game in Congress and that she's 'extremely confident' the support is there to pass ENDA."

"It's just a question of getting prioritization" from Democratic leaders, said Keisling. "I know they're busy -- I get it. But apparently we're not being prioritized. ...The clock is running out."

Prioritization...how would we get that? Oh, I know, let's make more phone calls to be ignored by rude receptionists! No, wait....let's send emails. Oh, they have a delete button?

Hmmm....let's ask Kip Williams and Robin McGehee for some ideas, shall we?

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"Kip Williams and Robin McGehee?" What we need is Robin Williams to help us. He's played gay so many time he should understand by now. In fact, where the fuck are the celebs on this? Why doesn't Bil's secret love, Patrick McNeil speak up? Rosie? Ellen? The Country singer? Hell, there's enough gay celebrities to fill the entire auditorium on Tony night. Cat got their tongue? I don't see a damn E-mail campaign to them. You don't win a war by shooting cap pistols at your enemy when they are using nukes.

Amen, Monica. Why aren't the A gays clamoring for ENDA? Because they're so fucking rich and famous they don't need them anymore. They make their money in states that already offer them protections.

More "stupid, childish" stunts by GetAttention won't change anything. In fact, the case could be made that they have already offended Pelosi and Obama. It's easy to "make demands" but that doesn't change any minds or votes. Attention isn't progress. Offending people isn't a strategy.

From yesterday's Washington Post:

"I don't think they should bring it up," said Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), the former Washington Redskins quarterback-cum-congressman. "First, let's get our fiscal house in order."

Shuler, who serves as chief whip for the Blue Dog Coalition, said moderates have "walked the plank a lot around here on things that never go anywhere in the Senate" and that asking them to vote on a transgender bill in this year's political climate would be "a mistake." Asked whether he thought the bill would ever reach the floor, he said, "I can't imagine that it would."

. . . just like Speaker Pelosi promised.

If GetAttention wants to try to embarrass Pelosi (and themselves) again, it doesn't help us. They are just doing these silly stunts to raise money.

The media is ignoring them - we should do the same.

Andrew you have convinced me. As of right now I am dropping any concern with the repeal of DADT or the passage of ENDA. I am also embarking on a scorched earth policy. I will donate my money and put in my hours to defeat every democratic candidate in my state in 2010. I would rather have Republican control of both houses for the next 2 years than listen to the siren songs of chicken sh*t democrats with no spine. I have waited many decades for the right minded individuals to have a majority in both houses and Pelosi and Frank and the current crew aren't it. My message to them from now on will be silence as I support their opposition. Let them all R.I.P. and fail in the fall elections.

GetEqual already has the "scorched earth" strategy. It isn't helpful.

The "political game" is not going to be our salvation - Democrat or Republican. It is our "bad romance" and it has only deferred our equality. It is NOT the path to victory.

We need to acknowledge that reality. Until we do, we'll keep wasting time, money and effort.

Okay, Andrew, I'll bite. What do you suggest be done?

You don't want protests of any sort, fine, what do we do? Letters? Calls? Petitions? Editorials?

Oh, I know, we need to be like the Tea Party, we'll get sponsorship from media networks and corporate interests. We can even call ourselves, officially, the Teabaggers. Does anybody know the number for MSNBC? Maddow is one of us, she's smart, she has connections, maybe she has some ideas.

Surely you're not just here to belittle everything suggested, right? I mean, we all know that sitting around and waiting for rights doesn't work. That can't possibly be what you want.

Oh, sure Pelosi said there wasn't going to be any difficult votes. And we all know politicians never back down from their words. Which is why Obama has repealed DADT like he promised in his State of the Union address and just like ENDA was voted on back in November (and the other dates that Dr. Weiss mentioned).

Maybe it is a lost cause, but ENDA was scheduled for a vote back in 2009, I think that we should acknowledge the betrayal and lies and hold the Dems accountable.

Maybe I should just vote Socialist party this fall.

I never suggested "waiting" or "Socialism."


Socialism was mine, not from you. If I thought there was a chance, I'd go for the Socialist party over the Dems.

And I have now read your below post. You still aren't giving us any ideas for what to do. You're just complaining about the current tactics, some of which is no doubt valid. But, you're not giving us any other tactics. As such, you're saying that we shouldn't carry on with the current tactics, but since you're not giving any alternatives, that means you are saying we should do nothing.

You say it's 2010 as if human nature has changed in a few decades, it hasn't. You say that you want a strategy to win, we all do. But, you are not giving us any strategy, you're not giving us any organization which you think has a decent strategy.

Hell, you even said "I am helping to develop ideas that create a very clear path to victory. They are compelling and verifiable." [emphasis original] But, you are not sharing these ideas.

Go ahead, Andrew, show us what you've got. Compel us, verify them for us. Put up or shut up.

Embrace accountability and encourage others to do the same and we'll get started. Agree that we need to be honest and objective about our struggle and we'll get started.

For several months I have suggested accountability and not only do I get attacked - they simple idea of accountability gets attacked. THAT is the problem. We are defending the indefensible. We are believing in tactics, ideas and organizations without any substance.

I appreciate your comment. I think you want to "win." I think you want to get this struggle over with. We can. But, we need to agree to focus on actually "winning" and understand the need for a real, sustainable and verifiable strategy.

It is no long okay to "try everything" and admire self-proclaimed "activists" simply because they are willing to complain in public.

Endorse accountability and a focus on winning. Make it important. Get our community to make it important.

Accountability, now we've got something. Okay, how is this anything but a buzz word? What does this mean? How do you hold them accountable?

Accountability means we are willing to determine whether or not a tactic or strategy or method is effective.

We must stop suggesting "try everything" and focus on what we know is effective. When we honestly and objectively conclude something is ineffective we must acknowledge that fact and stop participating, encouraging and funding that action, tactic or strategy.

We must also agree that if an organization does not have a strategy to "win," we must acknowledge that fact and stop participating, encouraging and funding that organization. That is happening to HRC and GLAAD now. Either have a way to win or get lost. We have 50 years of floundering, and never actually figuring out HOW to WIN.

That's accountability.

You're still telling us what not to do, not what to do. I want ENDA passed, I want DADT repealed, I want DOMA repealed. How do I accomplish this?

So far, you're still saying that nothing done has been effective, so don't do it. But, and this is the key point, you're not giving us something to do instead. By not proposing an alternative, you're telling us to do nothing.

You say we should do what we know is effective. What is effective?

Have you embraced accountability?

The answers are coming.

Think about what YOU believe works. Not what makes you feel good, but actually changes minds.

THAT is our challenge - changing minds.

Are you going to give an answer anytime soon? You said it was compelling and verifiable. Tell me how to use accountability to enact change and verify it for me. I want examples, preferably sourced examples complete with links.

It's clear you are not willing to embrace accountability. THAT is the biggest problem with our movement. Change that and we can make some progress.

I've spent a lot of time and money to find real, sustainable answers. There IS a solution. But, it is not going to be introduced in an environment of cynicism and an inability to embrace the very simple premise of accountability.

Promote childish GetEqual or continue playing politics - neither will lead to our equality. Until you are willing to be honest and objective about our struggle you will continue to struggle. Sometimes the "fighting for something" becomes the "something." We are all about the "fight" and not about winning.

And it's clear you're about non-answers and buzzwords. Accountability is all well and good, but not when you don't suggest any way to hold politicians accountable.

battybattybats battybattybats | May 15, 2010 5:43 AM

Andrew, I'll embrace accountability. (actually i always did but excuse me while i play along)

I hereby hold YOU accountable for spamming repeatedly ENDA and related threads without anything to add to the discussion but vague nebulous demands of accountabilty and attacks on all strategies in play. You propose no strategies as likely to have success, even dismissing all the ones that had success for every civl rights and human rights victory from the dawn of time to the present day including successes for GLBT people outside the USA without any evidence to support your view.

I now demand that YOU be accountable to providing 10 suggestions of strategies that you believe will work or that are untried and worth testing.

I hold you accountable for demoralising and counter-productive posting that harms the chances of current discussions here from succeeding and discourages people from engaging in discussion and in activity, especially on ENDA upon which so many S&GD peoples futures depend.

Therefore i demand YOU be accountable to the inspiration of readers at Bilerico, especially on posts including S&GD issues by providing encouragement not discouragement, by providing paths to success not concentrating on how things will fail. YOU are hereby accountable to the MORALE of readers here. YOU are accountable to the INSPIRATION of readers here rather than their dissillusionment. YOU are accountable for increasing the active motivated confidant participation in successful strategies for victory.

So then Andrew, show your own accountability. And Bill et al, if he fails i propose you too follow his advice about requiring accountability and ban him. I'm sure he won't mind, it is he that demands accountability after all constantly. So let his presence here or let him be judged a failure and/or a troll and have to go as an example of his very own argument.

battybattybats battybattybats | May 15, 2010 5:51 AM

Oops a poor edit. Correction in capitals: "So let his presence here DEPEND ON IT or let him be judged a failure and/or a troll and have to go as an example of his very own argument"

You can start be actually reading my comments.

battybattybats battybattybats | May 15, 2010 1:57 PM

Way to skip YOUR accountability. Andrew if my perceptions of you are wrong wll your accountable to that to for effectively communicating to me and all others here. So be accountable Andrew!

David John Fleck | May 14, 2010 4:17 PM


It seems to me that the amount of time you have dedicated on this - and many other blogs - criticizing the tactics of others in the LGBT movement might be better well spent. Perhaps you should create your own organization to show us how it is done.

Increasingly I'm convinced that you are actually enjoying our current state of affairs. If that is in fact the case, it takes internalized homophobia to an entirely new level.

And please report back on how your visits to your Congressmembers' offices went. And those phone calls and letters. Perhaps we can learn from your personal outreach.


David, seeing Andrew actually do something rather than complaining would be as historical as seeing the first person walking on Mars, just to put it into perspective.

Good for you Monica. Very helpful.

It is. Just as helpful as you have been, right?

No Monica, I am honest about GetEqual and their so-called activism. I am honest about our problem in the US Senate. I am honest about the need for accountability.

Jokes are apparently your responsibility.

I only joke with those people who are a waste of time and keystrokes trying to point out that they have nothing of value to contribute.

If that's the criteria, I should probably joke with you. But, it's not productive.

Keep "laughing" Monica.

I absolutely DO NOT enjoy the current state of our dysfunctional movement. That's the point.

For decades we have done the same things - lobby politicians and protest. They do NOT work. We are the most creative people in the world and all we can do is pretend we are "black" or "women" by copying their very different movements. That's all David Mixner has - copy other movements. It's funny, you can now buy a "David Mixner T-shirt" from GetEqual for just $19.99 - how soon before we can buy the "Dan Choi is Our MLK" T-shirts?" It is pathetic and embarrassing.

It's 2010 - the world has changed, now it's our turn. We can do better and we MUST do better.

I have spent the last year researching, polling and seeking new ideas. Ideas to win - not earn a living. I'm not being paid to "advocate" or play the part of "activist" like Robin and Kip.

Never in the history of our movement has anyone ever talked about actually "winning" and knowing exactly how and when? They dismiss it as folly or impossible or my favorite "the wrong question." People and organizations without answers hate questions. I'm spending my money to figure out how to succeed, not get on MSNBC or sell t-shirts.

I am only interested in winning. I am (like the majority of the LGBT Community) tired of the lack of a clear and convincing strategy to win. The only date we ever get for winning is "one of these days." That's not good enough.

Yes, I criticize tactics and organizations that do NOT have a strategy. HRC and now GetEqual are about raising money, neither organization has a plan to actually WIN. Plus, I think we need to hold every single tactic, method, strategy and organization accountable and in this case it means they MUST provide evidence or at least some rationale for their actions. They MUST demonstrate how they help us and how they change minds.

GetEqual has a single strategy of complaining and yet they have never provided any evidence or rationale for its effectiveness. Many in the community believe that their actions so far have been "stupid, childish, immature" and "embarrassing." I have joined that chorus and at the same time encouraged GetEqual and anyone else concerned, to focus on figuring out what actually works. Figuring out "how to win."

GetEqual only wants attention and they are trying to use that to raise money. Donating to GetEqual - unless they can provide some substance for their silly actions - would be a complete waste of money. Jonathan Lewis (Progressive Insurance) wasted $500,000 on their "start-up" and they assumed their actions would lead to participation and financial support. Neither has happened. We only have to endure a few more months of their childish "activism."

I think there is a real, sustainable "movement" in our future. But, until we embrace accountability and start making "winning" more important than raising money (for salaries), we will keep floundering.

I know we can obtain our equality and I have purchased all the research that confirms that fact. I am helping to develop ideas that create a very clear path to victory. They are compelling and verifiable. I do not want another non-profit organization, I want to win.

I appreciate your comment. I also appreciate that there are many very well intentioned people working tirelessly within our community. We need to work together. A strategy to win will do that.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 14, 2010 6:38 PM

Passage of an inclusive ENDA will be a big stop forward in spite of the fact that it's enforcement provisions run from lame to non-existent and it doesn't cover housing and public services.

I know you've fought for it but honestly, Jillian, you should know the answer to your own question by now.

ENDA has been introduced in every Congress except one since 1994, sometimes with inclusive protections and sometimes, if Barney Frank was on the prowl, without them.

That's 16 years of the kind of BS escuses and manuevering by Democrats and Republicans that you've described so well.

When will it be time to abandon reliance on the Democrats and begin to rely on ourselves and our ability to create a massive, militant independent movement that can finally go to Congress with an offer they can't refuse?

Sadly, what the current crop of pols does not know is I DONT VOTE FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT ACT IN MY BEST INTRESTS!

Wait unit after November?

Sorry, but at the rate they're going I'll have to vote for someone who understands the game. You state goals, you promise results. If you dont work towards those goals in a concrete manner and fail to deliver the promised outcomes...then that means they're ineffectual. If they can't get the job done now then why vote for them again?

They simply can't do the job, find someone who can.

Are the Democrats Running a Con Game on ENDA?
Yes. Next question.

You can't expect the Democrats to kill the "golden goose," can you? If we have our equality they no longer have the issue to raise money, make promises, raise money, break promises and always defer to the "next election."

We LET them do that. There is no "political solution" to our equality.

Renee Thomas | May 14, 2010 11:17 PM

The next question is . . .

What the Fuck Are We Going To Do About It?

If we listen to Andrew continue to talk in circles ad infinitum we'll have slid safely into senility and it just won't fucking matter anymore.

But just in case you've been lulled by Andrew's circular rambling, let me take this opportunity to snap us all back to reality . . .

After we get rolled, after the Dem's (in who many of us have invested so much) screw us and run out the clock - it will still be legal in the majority of states in this wretched union to be denied the chance to make a living solely because we happen to be gay or trans or both. Your job will never be safe; your ability to provide for yourself and your family will rely on the uncertain goodwill of others. And just as Sylvia Rivera said at Stonewall 41 years ago . . .

We will still be fighting for our fucking lives.

That kiddos is exactly what’s at stake


Accountability is "circular rambling?"


: the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.

Bilerico won't even embrace accountability. The majority of those involved in our movement are unwilling to make an honest effort to find out what works. That's why we have a childish cheerleader strategy of "try anything."

Angela Brightfeather | May 14, 2010 11:41 PM

I don't know what the problem is folks. If you want to get mad about the Dems and their lack of action, go to any HRC fund raiser where the door and the podium is always open to them, and sit down and shout at the top of your voice, "You are ass holes."

There are three things that will happen for sure...They will answer to their name because they know who they are; they will continue to alugh and not care what you say or think; and finally, you will be a lot better after letting them know your opinion of them.

I think that the best thing that we could do is to boycott every political appearance of every politician that wants to speak in front of any groups of GLBT people consisting of four or more people. Let's see how they feel when their in a big room to speak to us and no one is there to listen. It might help, to give them some of their own medicine.

OK, now we are getting somewhere. I embrace accountability. I'll draw the line in the sand. They have until May 31 to pass ENDA and until June 30 to pass the repeal of DADT. If either date is missed then we vote either third party or Republican in the fall. In the meantime silence. Passive demonstrations are ok but no communication. Get T-shirts and placards printed that say GUTS. Tell the press it stands for Going Under To Succeed, or maybe someone can come up with a better phrase. Tell Get Equal to change their name to Get Even. I'd send Andrew a T-shirt but since he has all this money to spend on research I figure he can get one himself.

I would suggest third party instead of Republican, if only because we don't want them to pander even further to the right. Sure, it'd put the GOP in charge either way, but they'd see the reason they lost is because the votes went to third parties, preferably parties that support civil rights.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 15, 2010 3:12 AM

The Democrats have Republican politics. Why worry about them losing?

I'm not worried about the Dems losing, I'm worried about them thinking that they lost because they weren't conservative enough.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 15, 2010 4:19 AM

That's what they always do. According to Joe Sudbay over at AmericaBlog ""... when Democrats get scared, they don't act boldly. They cower."

Here in Nevada we have the option of voting for 'none of the above' and I do becasue there's no socialist or left party on the ballot most of the time.

Too bad that's not an option in all the states.

That is why I like the slogan GUTS. Silence, no financial or other support and deadlines. Then follow through, all the way to November. No attempts anymore to push or the legislation. Just silence and guts.

Forgot to proof read. That should have been "to push for the legislation"

Progress requires that we talk to neighbors, friends, co-workers and even strangers. THAT is much more valuable than talking to ANY "politician."

Sooner or later we need people to join us and support us. Playing politics doesn't do that.

I agree. HRC, NCTE, Get Equal and 300 other LGBT organizations should cease interactions with politicians immediately and direct their efforts to campaigns reaching out to the general population. Get your T-Shirt with GUTS printed on it Andrew and lets hold all these organization accountable. No more time should be spent lobbying congress or Obama. No more fancy lunches and hobnobbing with the rich and powerful. Account for time and activities. They should be spent on grass roots education and interaction with the general public. Build us a pledge to sign Andrew.

Gee, what do you think I fucking do? I talk about LGBT rights with people all the time. But, at the same time, these people can't vote for nationwide protections.

Hell, in some ways, ENDA doesn't mean anything to me. I live in Minnesota, a state that already has very strong protections. We're surprisingly queer friendly.

Angela Brightfeather | May 15, 2010 11:40 AM

I have no problem under the present circumstances in changing my lifelong vote for Democratic candidates to third party candidates and in fact, I have been proposing exactly this action in the GLBT community ever since Kerry ran and snubbed representatives fromt he Trans community.

What we need to show both parties is what they will lose when they ignore the GLBTI Community, not what theycan win with false promises.

It's pretty simple really. You bring the feelings that you feel right now into the election booth with you in November and you pull the "I don't believe you any more" switch or turn in a ballot that lets them know how you feel. If enough people do it, they will get the message and when a few people lose elections by narrow margins that they could have used those votes to win, they will start to follow the national platforms that they have agreed upon. Such as, the Democrats platform which notes the passing of ENDA.

Back in Colorado during the Dem. Convention I sat here in Raleigh and was grateful for the bloggers from our community that reported. they were wined and dined and shook hands with all the Hollywood stars and the GLBT press was simply overwhelmed with accessability. They asked the right questions and got the right answers and were hopeful if not elated. I was sitting back here wondering just how nieve you have to be to believe that what they were saying was not going to change.

Now politics, timing, Obama, Pelosi, and about a thousand other things have gotten between what the bloggers were reporting as our future and promises made in Colorado. Our community has tried just about everything necessary to hold the Dem's to their promises with no or little results. The only thing left is open insurrection and/or complete withdrawal of any moral, financial, voluntary support for the Dem's and anyone who is supporting and touting them as our best chance.

Perhaps what we really need is a GLBTI National Party.

Can't be a GLBT party. Too small. Make it O.U.R. party - Others United for Respect.

Our platform.
1. Bring the troops home - from everywhere - to spend the resources in our own economy and also cut the huge current use of oil resources by the military
2. Forget ENDA and back legislation to prevent discrimination in hiring and employment for everyone. Require employers to base those decisions only on skills and job performance.
3. Do away with the volunteer armed forces. Return to universal conscription and make it apply to every sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. In that way if we enter a future war everyone will have family members "at stake" and it better be a war for darn good reasons.

OK, now its your turn - add to the issues platform. Criticize anything you disagree with.

Angela Brightfeather | May 15, 2010 12:06 PM

After checking my email this morning I found at least two messages asking for money or for me to have a house party for Obama. One was from Organizing for America and the other was from the DCCA. Both of them had areas to unsubscribe and of special note is the area that asks why you are unsubscribing.

All the readers on Bilerico are smart enough to know where I'm going here by now. Lets all start there with these unsubscription options and when they ask you why, tell them because they haven't kept their promises. A few hundred of these unsubscriptions and they might state to pay attention. At least it's a shot across their bow.