Thursday, November 08, 2007

That's Some Victory

I received an e-blast from the HRC last night after ENDAlite passed the House. Unlike the original ENDA, ENDAlite offers no protection to transgendered people and allows an employer to fire you if they deem you too masculine or feminine; employers just wouldn't be able to mention your sexual orientation while showing you the door. Lambda Legal has some great analysis of ENDAlite.
Strangely, the e-blast from HRC head Joe Solmonese claimed victory. My response to the HRC (with minor edits - I wrote the original very quickly):
Dear Joe Solmonese,

This is a victory at the cost of denying transgendered people the very protections we're seeking. Trans-protection was removed from the original bill after all; it's not as if ENDA was a GLB only bill when submitted earlier this year.

Why the rush to a veto? Will this pass the senate? What is that gaining us? I don't believe that the press garnered by a veto will get us much more than the failing, on the floor, of a fully inclusive bill. Really, what great gains are to be had here?

Were transgendered people thrown off of this bill simply over press potential? That's not the type of behavior I'm looking for in an advocacy organization; I'm very disappointed in the HRC. I won't be contributing in the future. I wouldn't feel right.

It's very difficult to see this as a victory with any real gains. However, the costs of HRC's and Congressman Frank's actions are clear: a) harm to the cause of a minority we've been aligned with - whether revisionists recognize it or not - for years; b) a schism among LGBT people, and c) the beginning of waning relevancy for the HRC (e.g. I'm not likely to pay heed to a scorecard that gives minuses to representatives who voted "No" on a discriminatory ENDA because they wanted a fully inclusive bill to vote on). In this light, the victory you're claiming is of questionable moral and strategic standing.

For me, at the core of this is the very simple fact that neither press potential, nor political expediency are acceptable reasons for divvying up civil rights, actively keeping protections from one portion of a group while fighting to ensure those protections for the