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ENDA: 38th Time Is The Charm, They Say!

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Editor’s note: This guest post is by Scott Wooledge who also writes at Daily Kos under the handle Clarknt67.
Read Scott’s most recent previous post here, “One Of The White House 13 Anti-DADT Protestors, Facing Jail: “Try Me.”

 

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is being introduced into the House this morning. Press release from Barney Frank’s office:

BARNEY FRANK AND COLLEAGUES TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMATION ACT (ENDA)

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday morning, March 30th, Congressman Barney Frank and other prominent Members of the House of Representatives will make an important announcement about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The legislation would extend federal employment laws, which currently prevent job discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability, to also cover sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill applies both to the public and private sectors.

On the night before the event, Frank said that “passing an inclusive ENDA is a difficult but winnable fight – winnable if supported by a serious lobbying effort. The bill we are about to introduce provides an important vehicle for that effort.”

Although some states have passed laws to prevent such discrimination, it is legal in 29 states to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and legal in 38 states to discriminate on the basis of gender identity. According to research by the Williams Institute, there is an ongoing pattern of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity nationwide.

In attendance: Rep. Barney Frank, joined by Rep. George Miller, Rep. Jared Polis and other cosponsors of the legislation. Also present will be representatives of leading LGBT equality, civil rights and social justice organizations.

Well, isn’t that special?

Now, Dear Reader, before you burst out of closet and into the corner office, and treat your Boss to a rousing rendition of “I Am What I Am,” maybe take a moment to peruse the ENDA Timeline Of Broken Promises, provided by GetEqual. Well, maybe more than a moment, it’s really very long and it begins:

March 14, 1974— On the fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY) and Rep. Ed Koch (D-NY) introduce H.R. 14752, dubbed the “gay rights bill” or “Equality Act of 1974,” but it fails to make it out of committee. It proposes that new categories of sex, sexual orientation and marital status be added to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Abzug’s version bars anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations and housing, but not transgender protections.

Fast-forward over the next 37 years, much changes, employment and gender expression are added, accommodations lost. It’s now 2010, but the song remains the same: “failed to get out of committee.”

This despite a May 2007 Gallup poll, one of many, that showed overwhelming support for the principle of equal job opportunities for lesbian and gay Americans, 89%! Heck, a 2001 Harris poll that showed that 42% of Americans believed such a law already exists.

Look, Congress Critters, I suppose it doesn’t hurt anyone if you want to keep doing these little, queer, dog and pony shows, year after year after year. Toss me my rainbow pom-poms! Yay! Go Gay Rights! But the fact remains, we can’t help you if you insiders won’t tell us; what is the real problem with this frickin’ bill?

Because, we don’t know.
What we do know is you had a golden opportunity to finally pass this bill in 2009 and 2010. And all we got were assurances from Rep. Frank, Speaker Pelosi, Jared Polis, Tammy Baldwin, Joe Solomnese and other so-called insiders that “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming…”

Psst? You know what? It never came. ENDA is the trick from Hell. And it can have its $20 back. We just want a cigarette break now.

Barney? Jared? Joe Solomnese?

We’ve made the calls, wrote the letters. We’ve been doing it for years. We’ve talked our family and friends’ ears off. We’ve talked strangers’ ears off, some of us for 37 years. The voters are there. We’ve turned the public opinion overwhelmingly to the side of equality. That’s right! They’re there! America’s on board with the idea. And we’ve even taken to making a nuisance of ourselves to make you guys take a vote on it.

Gay activists shut down traffic in Las Vegas, July 2010, calling on Congress to pass ENDA.

 

Now, you tell us. What more do you need from us?

I’m stumped. I’m not the only one. White House correspondent, and Equality Matters principle and LGBT politico extraordinaire Kerry Eleveld wrote just last month:

Second, although I have asked a good number of questions about ENDA and its prospects for a vote, I still can’t tell you why it never happened. Meanwhile, I can recall with decent clarity nearly every twist and turn of the battle to pass “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) repeal. This is not due to a bias on my part, but is rather indicative of the fact that no one seemed willing to talk with any specificity about what was or wasn’t happening with ENDA.

Because, I have to be frank with you, Frank. When you say you the bill is “winnable if supported by a serious lobbying effort,” a couple things go through my mind. One, you guys can’t get a bill passed that consistently polls in the 80%? Why are we sending you guys to DC?

And it’s really hard to get ourselves pumped up year after year to work for a bill, when it really doesn’t seem like anyone in charge is serious about actually passing it. Democrats’ well of credibility has run dry on this issue. Yours in particular, Rep. Frank.

Particularly when you yourself spoke just six months ago to our community on the prospect of LGBT legislation passing in Congress under the Republican-controlled House:

“Next year there’s no chance of anything happening,” he said of pro-LGBT legislation. “There’s zero chance.”

It was the one time I wasn’t skeptical of you. Now you’re telling us to lobby hard? Maybe you should think about giving the ground troops a year off so you guys in DC can regroup and come up with a serious strategy for actually getting this bill passed. And let us know what you come up with, because this isn’t working.


For more ENDA news, see also The Bilerico Project. Tico Almeida served as the lead counsel on the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has some interesting history, insights and strategy suggestions there.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Watch: Florida Dems Walk Out After DeSantis’ Surgeon General Refuses to Say if Vaccines Work

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Democrats on a Florida state Senate committee walked out of the confirmation hearing of Governor Ron DeSantis’ Surgeon General nominee, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, a far right-wing anti-science extremist after he refused to answer if vaccines are safe and effective, and why the Dept. of Health has stopped publicly posting COVID data.

Ladapo, who has been in the position for months, has ties to an infamous conspiracy theorist doctor who talks about alien DNA, demon sperm, and pushes hydroxychloroquine as a COVID cure.

Asked if the COVID vaccines are effective, Ladapo refused to say “yes” or “no.” The Tallahassee Democrat reported Ladapo’s answers were “long-winded, indirect,” and that he “gave murky answers about his criticism of the Biden administration and his ability to work with the federal government, and whether he had a plan for ending the pandemic in Florida.”

“I would say that, that the, the question is a scientific one and it’s one that is answered with data. So, so, the, the question, the question is informed by data on specific outcomes and specific, specific therapies. So that’s a that’s the, that’s the scientific question.”

The Senator, polite but frustrated, pushed back: “Just a yes or no. Do vaccines work? In fighting against COVID-19? Yes or no?”

Related: DeSantis Vows to Fight FDA After COVID Treatment His Top Donor Invested in Is Found to Not Fight Omicron

“Senator,” replied Ladapo, an anti-vaxxer who opposes testing for the deadly coronavirus. “I just, I as a scientist, you know, I I, I am compelled to answer the scientific question, and I’d be happy to answer any specific scientific question that you have related to vaccines and COVID-19.”

So she tried again.

“Scientifically, does the, do the vaccines work against preventing COVID-19? Yes or no?”

“So, yes or no questions are not that easy to find in science,” Ladapo obfuscated. “So, I will I understand I think I have better clarity about your your question at this point. So what I would say is that the most commonly used vaccines in the United States, which would be the the Pfizer product and the product that was was developed by Moderna have been shown to have relatively high effectiveness for the prevention of hospitalization.”

Later, he was asked why the state has stopped publicly releasing COVID data. He again obfuscated.

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BREAKING NEWS

SCOTUS Justice Breyer Retiring

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, 83, is retiring at the end of the Court’s term. Breyer, nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1994, is one of just three liberals left on the nation’s highest court.

Progressives have been working to convince Breyer to retire while President Joe Biden still has a Democratic majority in the Senate.

NBC News’ Pete Williams broke the news. He notes President Biden committed to nominating the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.

 

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21ST CENTURY VERSION OF A BOOK BURNING

Mayor Who Promotes His City’s ‘Progressive Leadership’ Blocks Taxpayer Funds Over Library’s ‘Homosexual Materials’

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Last March, Ridgeland, Mississippi Mayor Gene McGee spent time reading books to students at a local elementary school in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ Read Across America Week.

In September Mayor McGee signed a proclamation promoting Constitution Week, celebrating the 234th anniversary of the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.

Mayor McGee, who says his city of Ridgeland “attracts new businesses and new residents because of its vibrant businesses, progressive leadership, excellent schools and welcoming neighborhoods,” this week is refusing to release $110,000 in already appropriated funds to the local library because it has “homosexual materials” that he claims violate his Christian beliefs.

McGee “told me that the library can serve whoever we wanted, but that he only serves the great Lord above,” Tonja Johnson, executive director for the Madison County Library System told the Mississippi Free Press.

The counsel for the library board, Bob Sanders, was asked at a Tuesday meeting of the Ridgeland Library’s board if the mayor has legal authority to block the funds.

“Uh, no.” Sanders responded.

Mississippi Free Press reporter Nick Judin adds that “the mayor’s action may well violate basic constitutional rights, based on earlier court cases on the subject of LGBTQ book bans, including Sund v. City of Wichita Falls.

On Twitter, Judin adds more details:

Judin also offers this plea: “if you are sharing this story to make a point about Mississippi, I encourage you to remember that Mississippi is not just Gene McGee. Mississippi is also Tonja Johnson and the library board who voted unanimously to ignore his demands.”

No word yet on if the funds will be released.

 

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