Filed by: Dr. Jillian T. Weiss
December 1, 2009 11:30 AM
The rumors of problems with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act havebeen circulating for weeks now <http://www.bilerico.com/2009/11/enda_reading_the_tea_leaves.php> ,
and yet there has been little response by the LGBT community and the wider progressive community. The markup of the bill has been postponed with no reschedule date by Representative George Miller, chair of the House Committee where the bill is currently languishing.
It is pretty obvious even to casual observers that ENDA’s passage will occur “no time soon,” in the words of Jewelle Johnson, head of the diversity committee at national labor law firm Fisher & Johnson in today’s edition of Human Resource Executive Online <http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/story.jsp?storyId=295568497> .
Every DC-knowledgeable person I have spoken to is telling me that postponing the House vote until February means ENDA will be pushed to the bottom of the Senate list, and its likelihood of passage is greatly lessened. But there are more than enough votes in the House, and the Senate is missing only a few. The missing Senate votes could be obtained by notching up the momentum and working on the 9 holdouts.
So what happens? The motor is switched off.
Where is Congressman Barney Frank, the most powerful U.S. Representative? Where are Representatives Tammy Baldwin and Jared Polis? Senator Jeff Merkley, the lead sponsor of the Senate bill?
President Obama? And, more importantly, where are Y-O-U, LGBT community and media? I’ve not seen many stories about ENDA in the LGBT media, let alone the progressive media. Michelangelo Signorile, I’ve not heard from you. I’ve not seen community organizations stepping up to the plate and asking their Congressmembers to demand a markup of the bill now. HRC, NGLTF, NCLR – where are you? Bloggers – Andy Towle, Joe My God – almost complete silence.
We have a community conference call scheduled for today to discuss emergency action on ENDA <http://tinyurl.com/voteendanow> , and how many people are registered? 70.
70 out of 30 million LGBT people in this country. For shame.
Perhaps if we understood why the community is silent, if we understood the problem, we could redress it.
Perhaps if we understood why everything else is more important than ENDA, which was called the “keystone” to LGBT rights by John Berry, the highest ranking Administration official, we could get our community and the progressive community and our media and the Congress and the Administration moving.
Perhaps if we understood why discussing Adam Lambert is more interesting than discussing our civil rights, we could shift our emphasis.
Perhaps…but “understanding” is the booby prize in this fight. “Understanding” our silent complicity in shunting our rights aside, that is driving with the rear-view mirror. We need ACTION. We need those who hold the levers and dials of action in our community to stand up and speak. We need our LGBT media, and our LGBT organizations and our LGBT officials to start going against the great tide of lethargy washing over our so-called “movement.”
We are going gentle into that good night, in the words of the poet Dylan Thomas.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
I have some questions I would like us to consider as a community:
1. Why is our community silent on ENDA?
2. Why isn’t our high rate of job discrimination, and the bill designed to fix it that has an excellent chance of passage, page one news in our own community’s media and among our politicians?
3. Why aren’t you demanding that your community organizations and your media and your politicians speak up on ENDA?
4. Are we ready as a community to grab the brass ring of civil rights, or are we content to drift?
5. Why aren’t you calling and discussing and spotlighting the three politicians <http://www.bilerico.com/2009/11/how_to_get_enda_moving_again.php> needed to move ENDA forward right now?