Rebecca Juro

The Nibbler-In-Chief Promises To Keep On Nibbling

Filed By Rebecca Juro | June 23, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, ENDA

As with his Pride Month Proclamation a few weeks ago, President Obama yesterday lauded the minor incremental baby steps his administration has taken to protect a relative handful of LGBT Americans while relegating the workplace rights of the vast majority of our community who do not work for the federal government in some capacity to the Democratic Party's back burner. In concert with his Pride Month Proclamation, Obama chose not to mention the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by name in his speech to LGBT activists and media celebrities at the White House yesterday, instead saying only that "We are pushing hard to pass an inclusive employee non-discrimination bill. No one in America should be fired because they're gay. It's not right, it's not who we are as Americans, and we are going to put a stop to it."

Since the President had no trouble mentioning the other pro-LGBT initiatives his administration supports by name and with the actual steps the Administration is taking to see them enacted, it's clear that he's decided to gloss over the fact that despite all of their promises to the contrary the other 99.999% of the LGBT American workforce are being thrown under the bus yet again by a Democratic Party which continues to refuse to show real leadership on the issues that matter most in the lives of LGBT Americans when it presents even the slightest difficulty or inconvenience to the Party or its members, regardless of whether or not it's an election year.

In other words, what we heard yesterday is nothing more than just another promise of still more nibbling by the Nibbler Party at the issues that most significantly impact the lives of LGBT Americans, this time coming directly from the Nibbler-In-Chief.

It's important to remember that the vast majority of the apology crumbs the Nibbler Party and the Nibbler-in-Chief have been tossing our way these last few months will almost certainly not survive the election of the next anti-LGBT administration. Just as the LGBT-protective regulations and executive orders instituted by Bill Clinton were wiped out or simply ignored once the Bush Administration took office, so too can we expect these protections now being instituted by the Obama Administration to simply disappear like vapor, as if they never were, once a future President who is hostile to LGBT equality takes office.

Clearly, the Democrats from Obama on down are still trying to convince us that they're making real and lasting progress on LGBT rights and equality when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. What we're seeing here isn't real leadership or progress but simply the application of palliative, temporary band-aids designed to present the illusion of actual progress on equality for LGBT Americans in an election year, but without the relative permanence of legislated law to prevent a future administration from simply eliminating these protections at their whim in the same way as the Bush Administration did.

It's easy to tell when Obama and the Democrats are serious about making progress on LGBT rights or on any important issue facing our nation. Look at the courage they showed on health care reform. Consider Obama's refusal to issue an executive order repealing DADT and instead insisting on a legislative solution to ensure its continuance past his Presidency. Now, aside from the easily-passable bipartisan "gimme" that was the hate crimes bill, compare that to how the Obama Administration has dealt with every other "advance" they've made in terms of LGBT equality.

Let's not forget how, unlike when he was still running for office, the President now only speaks of protecting the bulk of the American LGBT workforce in abstract terms, as something he'd like to do in the future, rather than something he and his Party are taking real, definable, concrete steps to accomplish. The difference between the rhetoric employed by Candidate Obama and President Obama sends a clear message to the vast majority of civilian LGBT American workers who are not federal government employees, that he and his cowardly Democratic Party cohorts have already decided to cut their losses on ENDA for this Congressional session, throw the bulk of our community under the bus yet again, and instead will try to ensure LGBT community support for their candidates at election time by handing us yet another well-polished turd and offering it up as evidence of real progress.

In a nutshell, just as with every other major issue that is or has been on the table since the beginning of this Administration, if President Obama and the Democratic Party were finally truly getting serious about workplace equality for LGBT Americans they'd be advocating our issues in a way that implies it, as they've done and are doing with other issues. Instead, they're doing the precisely the opposite, building elegant-looking sand castles that will likely only survive until the next homo-transphobic political wave crashes upon our shores and washes it all away.

Don't be fooled by all the pretty words, the politically-convenient half-measures, and the vague, unsubstantiated promises. This is nothing more than the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party putting on yet another election year pro-LGBT extravaganza for us to attract the attention of the media and the accolades of the activists, while still being unwilling to do the hard work and expend the necessary political capital to honor their promises to make true equality for all American citizens a priority for the Democratic Party and a reality in this country.

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The President is "boiling a frog" here.

The story goes like this: If you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, he'll jump right out. If you put a frog into a pot of tepid water and gradually bring up the heat, the frog won't notice that he's being cooked and he'll stay in the pot until he's cooked.

Given the reflexive anti-GLBT climate in the legislature and in the reactionary rantings of the "religious right," in my opinion Obama is going about it quite appropriately. My plate is ready for a frog dinner.

While I agree with you partially, I can't help but wonder how that particular moral got started. Who boiled the frog and started the saying? :)

bigolpoofter | June 24, 2010 7:58 AM

Amen, Rebecca! That so many LGBTQ people are swallowing the Obama kool-aid is exasperating, particularly as there's a lot of low-hanging fruit like Section 2500 of the Public Health Service Act, a.k.a. no promo homo, that is literally killing Gay and Bisexual men and men who have sex with men every day, yet remains unchallenged by both Fierce Advocate and major LGBT organizations.

I'm of two minds. I wish they were more serious but I'm glad they're doing what they're doing.

Big bites take 60 Votes in the US Senate.

We can't even pass the (non-compromise, non-repeal) "Compromise DADT Repeal." It will be filibustered - if it makes it that far.

I personally believe the Democrats have no real deep conviction or intention of passing any LGBTQ legislation. If they (the Democrats) really did, they would have passed it already. They had the votes to move it forward for over a year but did not do so. Some may point to the Hate Crimes Bill as LGBTQ legislation but it really was not entirely directed at LGBTQ citizens. It just said we were not fair game for any red neck nut job to get mid-evil on and that if they did so in a community of red neck nut jobs the Federal Government might do something. Even so it included Veterans in the legislation which made it hard for some to vote against. Even then they attached it to a big spending bill so that it avoided a fight over it. I see my email box get an email daily asking for money for the Democratic election war chest. I have to ask myself what have they really done for me? The main piece of legislation I want dare I say even need to see passed is ENDA yet we have seen that get shelved mysteriously with little explanation or comment. Suddenly it is repeal of DADT that is in the news. ENDA is forgotten. It is almost like they got ENDA to the edge of being ready for a vote, supposedly had the votes in the House for passage, and then withdrew it. The only good reason I can see for it is they wish to try to wring more money out of the LGBTQ Community. Even if it mades it though the House and died in the Senate it would be better than having it shelved in committee to die a slow silent death in my opinion. At least it would provoke national debate on the matter. I believe they wish to avoid that debate. I run into people all the time who think ENDA is law already that are surprised to hear it is not. It is only until there is a national debate provoked that the fact it is not law will ENDA pass and the inequity of it not being law get changed. The Democrats tell us they want to pass ENDA but they stand in the way as much as the other side does. They could have pushed this out of the committee already on the votes along party lines from what I see. They do not wish to do the leg work to move it through the House. The question becomes why? I am kind of simple I suppose. If all other reasons fail to track, I fall back to the old rational of "follow the money". If ENDA were to be passed today and signed into law. My email box would not be filled with pleas for contributions. They know I am a not likely to migrate to the Republican party as long as ENDA is not law, but after it is, they have little hold on us. So again as I have said before I believe ENDA is a cash cow for the Democratic party as long as it is not passed. Once it is, they have killed their cash cow. So that is why we see ENDA left to die on the vine in committee. It is also why you will see DADT suffer much the same fate. They wish to kind of make it look like they are trying to do something but just fall short on it. I think everyone who would be effected by the passage of real LGBTQ legislation is just being played and the Democrats intend to ride that as far as they can take it or as long as we allow them to do so.

"If ENDA were to be passed today and signed into law. My email box would not be filled with pleas for contributions. They know I am a not likely to migrate to the Republican party as long as ENDA is not law, but after it is, they have little hold on us."

Exactly. You are a "target," not just because you might leave them, but because you are expected to pay them to solve your problem.

It isn't just ENDA, I would apply it to all LGBT issues. If the "problem" of homosexuals goes away they lose a big money maker. That's the game - not whether or not they want to solve the problem(s), but how they can use the issue to raise money. Lobbyists and pundits are in on the con-job, too. It is a corrupt industry that requires controversial issues to generate funding. That is our role. We are being played.

Watch the (non-compromise, non-repeal) "DADT Compormise Repeal," it will fail. But, that's not the point. This charade was created by the politicians and Gay Inc. so that they could say "we were so close," with a little more money we can succeed.

There is no "political solution" to LGBT Equality.

Rick Sours | June 24, 2010 12:55 PM

Silence by the LGBT community equals support of continuing oppression and acceptance of Second Class Citizen status.

You have to be quick in gathering those tiny little morsals. :D

The pace of change is picking up. Things like DADT thought to be impossible ten years and extremely unlikely three years are happening today.

Please don't exaggerate and whine. Find effective approaches to make your causes mainstream. Other folks are out there and succeeding. Not sniping from keyboards.

But that's exactly the point! It's not the real pace of change that's picking up, it's pnly the apparent pace of change and that makes a big difference.

Obama and the Democrats made our community promises which thus far they've made very little effort to keep. That deserves to be called out, and it deserves to be remembered at election time.

Dr. John P. Ouderkirk, M.D. | June 24, 2010 5:25 PM

Well said! Neither party as a whole cares about us, just our money. That's why I give to individual candidates based on their record, regardless of party.

John Gagon | June 24, 2010 11:40 PM

My contributions to "Gay Inc." (Credo,HRC,GetEqual,Democratic party,ACLU,etc.) have ceased ever since ENDA was sent back to bed and the mail/email requests for contributions and membership renewals are being trashed and plonked until they get behind ENDA and the other low hanging fruit again, that has been ripening for decades. Instead, I will save up for the day someone will actually go to bat or for my own retirement.

I refuse to be a tool. They need to get the message that I will no longer respond to their lures, dangling carrots and snazzy soundbites until they get serious.