Monday, October 08, 2007


ENDA is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that's before Congress. Its purpose is to outlaw employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. ENDA has been introduced and reintroduced over the years and gradually gathered more cosponsors and better chances of passing. Now that Democrats are in charge of Congress (at least theoretically) Speaker Pelosi was going to put ENDA up for a vote, and it looked like there was a good chance of it passing. But Congressmember Barney Frank, our only out gay male Congressmember, was counting the votes and discovered that many were balking at the protections afforded the transgender. Such protections had been added fairly recently as tg activists organized and made themselves known. But when it looked like their needs would scuttle the legislation altogether Frank proposed separating tg protections into another bill entirely (one with little prospect at this point).

Debate has been going on about the advisability of this. I left the following comment at Michelangelo Signorile's blog:

I admire Barney Frank. One thing that strikes me about him, though, is his inability to perceive the symbolic. He is pragmatic to a fault. It only matters if you can get it done, he seems to think. Frank accepted the so-called compromise of Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell, insisting that the version he agreed to included Don't-Pursue. In practice there's been plenty of pursue.

Republicans are happy to indulge in huge splashy symbolism; witness the repeated introduction of the Anti-Marriage Amendments and such fireworks as the Sciavo bill. There are those who say the Republicans are letting down their strongest supporters because they haven't succeeded in outlawing abortion or inserting an anti-marriage amendment into the Constitution. Maybe. But the country is not virulently anti-abortion and it's getting more pro-gay all the time, yet the the Democrat's attempts have been mired in a sort of anti-symbolism, as though the only way they can get anything good done is if it's possible to sneak it by.

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