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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

‘Boldly Ignorant’ Ted Cruz Slammed by Retired NYPD Detective for His Suggestions to Protect Kids

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Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Katie Phang Show,” a retired NYPD detective expressed disgust with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) over his attempts to dismiss the idea of new gun laws to protect children in schools and instead is insisting America needs to turn schools into fortresses.

In interviews and appearing at the NRA convention this weekend in Houston, Cruz has vociferously disregarded the easy availability of high-powered weapons and instead focused on a door that was left open at the elementary school where the shooting occurred.

After host Phang shared a clip of the Texas Republican making his case, she asked former law enforcement detective Marq Claxton his thoughts on what Cruz was proposing.

Calling the controversial senator “boldly ignorant,” he proceeded to rip Cruz’s proposal apart.

“Marq, I was a prosecutor for half my career, I never prosecuted somebody for leaving a door open. How absurd is this proposal by Ted Cruz that the solution is to make sure that we don’t have too many doors at our schools?” host Phang asked.

“Ted Cruz’s statements were boldly ignorant and dismissive of the clear obvious danger that is faced by so many people in society because of the prevalence of violence and gun violence in particular,” he replied. “It really shows just how so many political electeds lack the fortitude to move forward and do the right thing: save lives.”

“Instead of sloganeering, Mr. Cruz and his other elected colleagues really should be working on legislation that provides, or minimizes the risk of damage, and could quite possibly and probably save lives,” he continued. “That is some additional gun restrictions, some background checks, there are other things that are out there that will undoubtedly be effective and save lives, and prevent these gun violence deaths.”

Watch the segment below or at this link.

 

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News

‘Taking Us All for Fools’: Critics Decimate Greg Abbott’s Claims and Defense of His Actions in Wake of School Shooting

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Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott in a press conference that left reporters frustrated defended his actions and insisted his earlier praise for law enforcement’s widely criticized response to the Uvalde school massacre was the result of being “misled.”

“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott declared, blaming others for his “recitation of what people in that room told me.”

Critics aren’t buying his claims.

Abbott, who’s in the middle of a heated re-election campaign, appeared extremely defensive when reporters asked him questions.

“Let’s be clear about one thing. None of the laws I signed this past session had any intersection with this crime at all,” Abbott told reporters when asked if he would call the legislature back for a special session, as The Texas Tribune’s Sewell Chan noted.

“No law that I signed allowed him to get a gun,” Abbott insisted.

“The answers fell pretty flat,” opined MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, who noted the press event lasted just 36 minutes, less time than the police officers “stood outside and did nothing,” which was 47 minutes.

Abbott ended the press conference with many reporters almost begging him to take more questions. As the governor left one frustrated reporter was caught on a hot mic saying “unbelievable.”

Chan, who is the editor in chief of the Tribune, added on Twitter: “Abbott rejects background checks as a simplistic and ineffective fix. Wouldn’t have prevented Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe shootings, he says. Tries to turn focus to broken mental health system.”

Former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi on MSNBC delivered a strong rebuke to Governor Abbott’s remarks.

“No amount of free flights, no amount of free caskets, no amount of mental health counseling is going to bring back any one of those murdered children,” Figliuzzi said, referring to Abbott’s announcement an anonymous donor is putting up  $175,000 for funeral expenses of those who were murdered in the shooting and said the state will pay for mental health treatment.

Abbott also insisted that since Texas became a state it’s been legal for 18-year-olds to buy long guns.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was murdered in the Parkland school shooting, blasted Abbott:

And long guns of today, as Figliuzzi noted, are often semi-automatic “killing machines.”

“The governor seems completely unable to understand that he can easily make a distinction when you’re talking about whether an 18-year-old should buy an assault rifle or not. And all he cares about is a century of history in Texas on long guns. We didn’t have the AR-15 style assault weapons back then.  He can easily make a distinction and say, ‘you can go hunting, here are the rifles you can do, you can buy, you can possess – and here’s an assault-style rifle.'”

“If he thinks that people are stupid and unable to understand that there is a clear distinction between a killing machine and a hunting rifle, that he’s taking us all for fools.”

 

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‘I Apologize for Interrupting Your Press Conference’: Tearful Texas Democrat Urges Greg Abbott to ‘Do Something’ on Guns

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The Texas Democratic State Senator who represents Uvalde stood up during Greg Abbott’s Friday afternoon press conference and almost begged the Republican Governor to “do something” about gun violence after Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School that took 21 lives.

Abbott was trying to place the blame for the school shooting on mental health despite the gunman having no documented issues, and told attendees, “we’re focusing our attention on the wrong thing.”

That was not good enough for Democratic State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who politely introduced himself and said, “I’m not making a political speech.”

“My colleagues are asking for a special session, you’re getting a letter tomorrow,” from the Senate Democratic Caucus.

“We’ve asked for gun control changes – I’m asking you now, bring us back in three weeks.”

Gutierrez grew emotional, sounding as if he was choking up, and added, “I apologize for interrupting your press conference about the needs of this community. I’ve been here for three days with all of these elected officials – this county judge has been working his ass off,” he continued.

“I don’t know how to express the loss of the families that I’ve talked to,” he added.

“You have to do something, man,” Gutierrez said, all but begging the governor to take action, and saying his “own colleagues are calling me and telling me this is enough.”

Watch:

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