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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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News

Former US Attorney Calls for ‘Full Investigation’ After Report Secret Service Failed to Share Threat Against Pelosi

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A former U.S. Attorney is calling for a full investigation into the U.S. Secret Service’s failure to share intelligence it had detailing a violent threat against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats.

“This is deeply disturbing,” says Joyce Vance, who is now a law professor and MSNBC/NBC News legal analyst. She says it “requires a full investigation.”

“The Capitol Police are responsible for protecting the Speaker,” Vance continues. “If true” that the U.S. Secret Service “failed to pass on intelligence about threats, that’s very alarming.”

Vance points to a new report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) that finds the Secret Service discovered a violent social media based threat on January 4, 2021, two days before the insurrection, but did not share that intelligence with the Capitol Police until nearly 6 PM ET on January 6.

RELATED: Top Democratic House Committee Chairs Accuse Embattled DHS IG of ‘Obstruction’ in Warning They Will ‘Ensure Compliance’

The U.S. Secret Service is an agency under the Dept. of Homeland Security. The DHS Inspector General, Joseph Cuffari, is under investigation by two powerful House Committee chairs who on Tuesday accused him of “obstruction.”

In a separate report CREW reveals that “days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol, documents exchanged between the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies outlined ‘threats of violence’ on the 6th, coming ‘predominantly from right wing groups’ with ‘plans to bring weapons into the District,’ according to documents obtained by CREW. The Secret Service knew that Trump’s supporters would be demonstrating around Freedom Plaza and the Capitol with the intent to cause violence, but the agency does not appear to have taken the threat seriously.”

“While the Secret Service downplayed threats posed by right-wing extremist groups and Trump’s supporters leading up to January 6, the newly obtained documents reveal just how grave and explicit the threats had actually been,” CREW alleges.

 

Image via Shutterstock

 

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Secret Service Held Onto Violent Jan. 6 Threat Against Pelosi, Watchdog Says

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Two days before the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump the U.S. Secret Service discovered a “series of violent threats” made on social media, including against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, but did not pass them on to the Capitol Police until the evening of January 6 – after the violence of the insurrection had ended, a watchdog reports.

“On January 4, Secret Service agents discovered a Parler account, which we’ve chosen not to name, posting a series of violent threats towards lawmakers. Other profiles with the same name appeared on Twitter, MeWe, Bitchute, Youtube and Facebook,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reveals.

“On December 31, the account posted, ‘January 6 starts #1776 all over again…Fight for EVERYTHING’ and listed ‘Enemies,’ including Pelosi. At 5:55 pm on January 6, after hours of defending the United States Capitol from a violent mob, the United States Capitol Police received the post along with a message from the Secret Service.”

READ MORE: ‘Coverup of Treason’: Trump-Appointed IG, Under Investigation, Knew of Missing Secret Service and DHS Texts Far Earlier

“The language used by the account, as we’ve now seen repeated in recordings released by the January 6th Committee, is a clear call for a violent overthrow of the American government on January 6, 2021,” CREW adds.

The Secret Service found what CREW calls other “troubling” posts tied to that account.

“Biden will die shortly after being elected,” the account posted on January 2, four days before the insurrection. “Patriots are gonna tear his head off. Prison is his best case scenario.”

READ MORE: Watchdog to DOJ: Secret Service ‘Likely’ Broke Federal Criminal Law by Deleting Text Messages

“We’re all on a mission to save America. Lone wolf attacks are the way to go,” read a Jan. 3 post. “Stay anonymous. Stay alive. Guns up Patriots!!”

CREW takes the Secret Service to task.

“In the past month, we’ve learned that the Secret Service failed to prepare for violence on January 6 despite receiving explicit warnings, then deleted key evidence from the day, likely breaking the law,” the nonpartisan watchdog reports, presumably referring to the deleted text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021. “The delay in notifying Capitol Police about the threat to the Speaker of the House only adds to the impression that the agency failed to do its job, and leads to more questions. Why did the agency wait two days, until after the Capitol had been breached and Congressional leaders were in hiding to pass it along?”

 

 

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News

Watch: Pence Says He Would ‘Consider’ Appearing Before J6 Committee if Offered ‘Invitation’ to ‘Participate’

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Former Vice President Mike Pence, asked if he would testify before the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, said if invited he would “consider” participating.

“If there’s an invitation to participate, I would consider it,” Pence said Wednesday morning at a political event in New Hampshire, a state presidential hopefuls visit early and often. “It would be unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill, but as I’ve said, I don’t want to prejudge.”

In fact, as NBC News producer Frank Thorp V noted, “It would not, actually, be unprecedented for a VP to testify on Capitol Hill.”

RELATED: ‘We Save the Babies, We’ll Save America’: Mike Pence Calls for Total Abortion Ban Nationwide

Pence, as he often does, tried to frame his remarks in a historic context.

“Under the Constitution, we have three coequal branches of government, and um, any invitation that’d be directed to me, I’d have to reflect on the unique role I was serving in as Vice President.”

Thorp notes that “Vice President Schuyler Colfax testified before the House Select Committee to Investigate the Credit Mobilier on January 7, 1873, which was while he was in office.” He also points out that President Abraham Lincoln and President Woodrow Wilson testified before Congress.

Politico’s Kyle Cheney adds that “many” of Pence’s “former top aides have testified at length, presumably with his blessing.”

RELATED: As Jan. 6 Rioters Were Chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’ Trump Told Colleagues Maybe They Should: Report

Pointing to the video below, law professor and CNN contributor Steve Vladeck noted Wednesday morning that “Former Vice President Ford testified before Congress in October 1974 … while he was PRESIDENT.” He also notes that “former Presidents (to say nothing of former VPs) have testified before Congress *sixteen* times.”

NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss says the former vice president “needs to testify fully under oath before the House January 6 Committee — and he must not take the Fifth.”

Watch Pence below or at this link:

 

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