I’m not celebrating. ENDA passed without real or perceived gender protections. It sends me the message that effeminate men, emasculate women, and transgender people like me are just too problematic for Democratic Congressional Leadership to stand up and fight for.
My own experience of being sexually harassed in the Navy for gender expression — behavior that was interpreted as gay behavior by my subordinate and my Executive Officer — tells me this passing of the “substitute ENDA” leaves too many people behind. I also strongly feel that passing this “substitute ENDA” sent the wrong message to our LGBT youth on who is valuable in the LGBT community, and who is not.
Today, The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3685 the substitute Employment Discrimination Act by a vote of 235-184.
The staff and board of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) are deeply disappointed by today’s action in the U.S. House of Representatives in forcing through a flawed, divisive civil rights bill that virtually no civil rights organization wants and that has virtually no chance to pass into law.
NCTE pledges to continue our efforts to educate Congress and the public around issues of both sexual orientation and gender identity.
We praise the efforts of so many who worked tirelessly to protect all LGBT people, including the members of Congress who stood strongly with LGBT people in asking for protections for all LGBT people. We also express deep gratitude to the more than 350 LGBT organizations who are part of the United ENDA coalition. Transgender people should be comforted in their disappointment today knowing that the preponderance of the LGBT movement has stood with us absolutely rock solidly.
United ENDA sent out this message:
[United ENDA’s message after the break]
United ENDA Responds to Today’s Vote; Remains Committed to Passage of Fully-Inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Over the past 5 weeks, the more than 360 organizations that comprise United ENDA have affirmed with unwavering clarity that we are one community linked by our united support for civil rights protections for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In a remarkable flurry of action from coast to coast, from small towns and major cities, the LGBT community has generated unprecedented contact with legislators and in the process has impacted future conversations and legislation.
While the passage in the House of Representatives today of this stripped down ENDA is deeply disappointing, we have seen a tremendous shift in the commitment of a growing number of legislators to only support an inclusive ENDA in the future when passage in the Senate and the signature of a new President make the enactment of comprehensive employment protections a possibility.
We remain frustrated and disappointed that an inferior bill was brought to the floor. The stripping away of gender identity not only abandons transgender people – the most vulnerable within the LGBT community – it ignores the reality that gender identity and expression are at the root of much anti-gay discrimination.
It is distressing that Representatives were put in the untenable position of either voting for a bill that is not supported by most of the community it’s supposed to protect, or voting against a bill extending rights based on sexual orientation alone. We look forward to working with those members who voted yes on ENDA today, but who support a fully inclusive bill, to make sure they have an opportunity to vote on a fully-inclusive bill the next time ENDA comes up for a vote.
Despite the action taken today in the House, the United ENDA coalition continues to expand, and we intend to harness the passion, grassroots activism and local, state and national organization leadership. Collectively, we are committed to working with Congress towards the ultimate goal of passing a fully-inclusive ENDA. We also are committed to working with all the organizations in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, as the LGBT community needs the support of the entire civil rights community to make certain a fully-inclusive bill is introduced in the next Congress.
I’m glad there are those in my community who see a rainbow after this storm.
But, tonight I’m not celebrating; I see hope for the future like United ENDA does, but tonight I just feel the storm.
In the next day or two I’ll have a “link farm” post up highlighting the commentaries by LGBT organizations, religious right organizations, and congresspeople.