Note: I started this blog post a week ago, and then failed to get it published. It is still timely, and ENDA remains an important piece of legislation that needs your support and action. In fact, ENDA needs your action more now than ever before.

The linked post is from the Bilerico Project, which has been doing an amazing job of covering ENDA, mostly, but not completely, because of Jillian Weiss. The post is a reply to a Friday post that talked about how MSNBC has had a ton of coverage on DADT, but has failed to cover ENDA, and blamed the lack of progress on ENDA on this lack of coverage. Joe Mirabella doesn’t see it that way- thus his post. So, I thought I would post what I believe ENDA’s problem is/ has been/ will be.

Before I talk about the problem with ENDA, however, I don’t want this viewpoint to obscure the urgency or the real need for you to take action for ENDA, and I’ll close the post with an action plan you can follow to help make ENDA become a reality.

ENDA suffers from the same thing that all federal -level LGBT rights bills suffer from. There is no committed leadership in the House or the Senate willing to push this legislation through and maintain the integrity of the legislation. The easiest way we see this integrity broken, is the ease at which some legislators are willing to drop Trans protections in the bill, and call that a compromise needed to assure passage.  We, the American voting constituency have no input on this matter, except to tell our legislators what we want. That doesn’t mean they will listen. I personally don’t want to be a part of pushing for a bill, and having my hard work for a fully inclusive ENDA get used to pass an unacceptable compromise. For me, there are acceptable (although undesired) compromises. For example, I would rather see greater protections for Religious organizations and church-related businesses, than see Trans protections dropped wholesale. But we, the American voting constituency, are never asked for input when it comes to this level of decision making.

We can’t trust our Democratic (as in not-Republican) leadership or elected officials at almost any level of the US House and Senate. We can trust the Republicans. We know they (at least those who hold elected office)  stand united against LGBT as well as other progressive legislation. But the Democrats? They can’t be trusted to do much of anything except water down bills and too often, we the LGBT communities are the ones thrown under the bus in the name of compromise for progress.

ENDA suffers from not having a single source of activist leadership, and therefore, a single pathway of information that can be passed down to the grass roots level. I recently had a telephone conversation with one activist, I thought was “in the know” on this issue, who explained to me what the believed obstacle for progress was.  It all sounded good and made sense, and the plan of action, made equal sense to me. Then only a few days later, I was speaking with another leader who also was very much in the know, who told me why the “problem” as person #1 had explained it, was a non-issue, and what the real obstacle was instead. Which is a real obstacle for passage of ENDA? Both? Neither?

ENDA suffers from a lack of effective message so that the average person can truly understand the issue at hand, and get on-board to support ENDA. Partly because the language of the bill can change at the drop of a hat, but also because no one is explaining what exactly the bill does and doesn’t do. This, like many items of LGBT gets framed as “our rights” where our rights and their rights seem to be in conflict. It may truly be a matter of our rights, but that message doesn’t allow us to get past a line in the sand. If we were talking about what the bill does allow and does not in practical terms, would we be able to see through the emotionally charged verbiage to look at the real implications of this bill?

ENDA suffers from not being sexy. The right to work, the right to a safe work place free from intimidation, and hostility isn’t a top priority for most people. Where labor unions once dominated the movement for equality of various sorts in the work place, big Business, corporate greed, and individual’s ignorance, has set the stage  so that we have no united movement for labor or the protection for the right to earn a living. ENDA is above all else, an economic issue, and Wall Street, and Big Business are currently in the driver’s seat- not the workers themselves. There is bi-partisan blame to go around as to how we got to this point too.

For all these things that ENDA suffers however, there is one action step that you and I can take that can have positive impact. That is to contact our US House representatives and US Senators and ask them to support a fully inclusive ENDA. Despite all of these issues I’ve articulated, there is a good amount of support in both the House and the Senate, and if we can get these two legislative bodies to buck the President’s agenda, which does nothing for LGBT issues, we have a chance to see ENDSA finally passed. We must demand that ENDA remain inclusive of Trans language!

The most important thing you can do is to write a personal letter (not a form letter) and send it off to your representative and senators. Make a copies of the letter, and send them to your local newspaper, to your local LGBT organization, your state LGBT organization and to federal level groups like the HRC. Sometimes, legislators claim that they don’t receive any supportive letters when it comes to LGBT issues. If you get your letter published in a newspaper or get copies to other organizations, it is easier to counter these lies. Or send a copy of your letter to me, and I will make sure your voice is heard, while protecting your identity if needed.

Don’t Blame MSNBC for Our Poor Messaging on ENDA | The Bilerico Project.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for your comment Joe!

  2. Great points. Thanks for the mention.

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