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I really do hesitate to even write this post, as the topic is a rehash of one of the ugliest times for GLBT unity I’ve ever seen. Recently Matt Foreman said the following on the Michelangelo Signorile Show concerning the ENDA debacle:

I think what really happened is the Speaker’s people said ‘look, Congress has a terrible reputation right now, they’re not delivering for any progressive causes, what do we do to deliver for our progressive allies?’ That means labor, health, and environment, and gays. And so, I mean… I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d bet my life this is what happened. They went to Barney frank, they said, ‘what do we need to do to pass ENDA?’ Representative Frank, who’s always been pretty squeamish on the trans issue, … and I guess I can say these things because I’m leaving my job, ya know, said ‘look the best way to pass ENDA and the easiest way is to take out gender identity.’ And I don’t think the Speaker’s people thought this through, didn’t think it through and said ‘lets do it. ‘

Yesterday, Barney Frank came on Signorile’s show to respond to Foreman’s statement and said:

He just made that up, that’s not remotely how it happened. He also has no basis for talking about my attitude on transgender people because I’ve had one set of conversations with Matt Foreman about transgender people. In 2002, when he was the head of Empire State Pride Agenda, he lobbied hard to get through the New York legislature a bill that did exactly what our bill did last year, it covered discrimination based on sexual orientation, but excluded people that were transgender. Some people didn’t like that. Tom Duane said at the time that Matt Foreman excluded him from meetings on the subject. Matt Foreman not only helped get that bill through, frankly, and this I disagreed with, as part of the deal to get it though, that year the Empire State Pride Agenda endorsed the Republican George Pataki for reelection over an outstanding African American Democrat, Carl McCall. So you had Matt Foreman guiding to passage an ENDA bill that didn’t cover transgender, it was called SONDA for the State of New York, and in return, denying an endorsement that I think he should have gotten on [unintelligible] to Carl McCall. The reason I talked about it with him was because called me around that time, this is late 2002, and said ‘I’m being criticized for doing this, would you come to a meeting that we’re having in New York to celebrate it and give an award for Gov Pataki to show that uh people shouldn’t be attacking me for it.’ And even though I did disagree with decision to make make the deal with Pataki, I do believe that you work together with each other, and you try to be supportive, and I went up there.

“This is a story of the lives and loves, and hopes and dreams, of young Batswana [sic] in the context of the changing cultural norms and values of modern times. Each of the dancers are shaped and challenged by the forces upon them: love, power, money, lust, and authority. They must choose their destiny by making difficult choices and search for what they truly believe in.” — plot summary for the documentary, Re Bina Mmogo (2004)

It’s been a really blue funky week and a half for me. Seeing John Edwards drop out of the race just over a week ago, I’m left with nothing but second choices for the upcoming presidential election. I feel as if I’m wakening from a really bad hangover.

My personal preference was for a presidential candidate who would address the rampant inequities, to eliminate poverty and end the disenfranchisement and disparity in this entitlement-oriented society. The last thing I wanted was a choice of gatekeepers for the corporate power stranglehold status quo.

With my last best hope for that out of the campaign at virtually the same time my job ended, it’s been consideration time over the two primary candidates who are left.

lgbcardWith passage of The Matthew Shepard Act in the Senate on Thursday, it should have been a time for celebration. But on the heels of the victory came the news that gender identity could possibly be stripped of from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The Advocate confirmed the story tonight saying:

“The Democratic House leadership is considering stripping protections for transgender people from ENDA after a preliminary vote count found the measure would not pass if it had trans-inclusive language. ‘The fact of the matter is, we’ve been canvassing this — the votes just are not there for a trans-inclusive bill,’ said Steven Adamske, spokesman for Rep. Barney Frank, sponsor of the original bill. Reps. Frank and Tammy Baldwin, the only openly gay members of Congress, called for the count after they learned House speaker Nancy Pelosi feared the measure lacked enough support to pass.”

Matt Foreman took the bold step this morning by posting to Bilerico.com “A non-transgender-inclusive ENDA? No way!” Around the same time, a statement was put out by the Executive Directors of nine national LGBT organizations saying:

Our collective position remains clear and consistent regarding the status of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. Our organizations oppose the removal of protections for transgender people from ENDA. We would also oppose any bill that did not protect transgender people. We are shocked and upset that, according to the Washington Blade, influential members of the House of Representatives have apparently made a decision to remove protections for transgender people from the bill. If true, this decision was made without consultation with leaders of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

While we don’t doubt the sincerity of Congressional leadership’s intent to take action and be helpful to the LGBT community, we cannot disagree more with this strategy. We will continue to work with LGBT supportive members of Congress to urge their colleagues to immediately drop this strategy.

Jody Huckaby, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays
Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc.
Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality
Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Jon Hoadley, National Stonewall Democrats
Rebecca Fox, National Coalition for LGBT Health
Jeremy Bishop, Pride At Work, AFL-CIO
Clarence Patton, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects
Andrea Densham, Mautner Project

“So I get on my knees and pray … we won’t get fooled again!” — the Who

Fresh on the heels of Southern Comfort Conference (SCC), many of the transgender community reveled in what seemed a penultimate victory: HRC – yes, the Human Rights Campaign – was actually appearing to take the transgender community as equals. (Obviously the ultimate victory would be equal rights for us all, jobs and all.) All of the years of HRC’s historic missteps seemed to magically disappear. We’re now a welcome, if amnesiac community for the Equal Sign people.

During the speeches there was much congratulation and self-congratulation, and plenty of high spirits about the impending bills in Congress awaiting votes: Hate Crimes (already passed inclusively in the House) currently awaiting Senate approval, and the all-important Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) approaching the House vote. All seemed right with the world in Trans America’s focus point that weekend at SCC in Atlanta. All seemed eerily right to some of us long-timers with memories intact as well. Eerily too right.

After the speech, everyone clapped, ate, enjoyed the rest of SCC and went home. Most of us waited with baited anticipation. Myself, I couldn’t get over how this reminded me of 2002.

At the SCC in 2002, HRC came down and made the big presentation again, and ushered in the coming out of a brand new national activist on the scene, Mara Keisling formerly of then-disbanded WGTE – the group name under which a study in concert with HRC was conducted. She was planning to open shop with an org of her own. No more WGTE, now NATE or NOTE was the names she was hashing over at the time (later settling on NCTE).

HRC was not going to deal with the existing trans orgs — NTAC nor IFGE, while GenderPAC left the trans fold to focus on “gender.” So Mara’s sudden emergence fit them to a T, literally, and was welcomed in the HRC fold.

However, it wasn’t just HRC’s king or queen-making within the trans community that was the draw of this presentation. This was more about the study findings, ballyhooed as changing the minds of HRC about trans inclusion in legislation. Word went out, there at that conference, that HRC was behind transgender inclusion and would begin such a push immediately.

The question from the skeptical among us was posed as to what would happen if this ran up the HRC flagpole, and they instead decided “Nah!” and let Mara twist in the wind. Mara responded that they wouldn’t dare try, “and if they did, [she’d] rip them a new asshole for publicly trashing her political credibility.” I’ll never forget the look on David Smith’s face at her answer … curious.

Unbelievably, I woke up to find this in a google alert:”Bringing back Hitler and the SS

From the get go, it’s filled with lies:

“Right now we have a bill called HR 2015 that, in my opinion, would bring back forced hiring by our government for local business. Surprised, I am not.”

From the bill:

    No Preferential Treatment or Quotas- Nothing in this Act shall be construed or interpreted to require or permit-
    • (1) any covered entity to grant preferential treatment to any individual or to any group because of the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of such individual or group on account of an imbalance which may exist with respect to the total number or percentage of persons of any actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity employed by any employer, referred or classified for employment by any employment agency or labor organization, admitted to membership or classified by any labor organization, or admitted to, or employed in, any apprenticeship or other training program, in comparison with the total number or percentage of persons of such actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in any community, State, section, or other area, or in the available work force in any community, State, section, or other area; or
  • (2) the adoption or implementation by a covered entity of a quota on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

She continues:

“A company will no longer be able to hire a person because of their qualifications. The company will be forced by law to hire the type of person that will be mandated by our government.”

Apparently there’s some kind of forcefield around her eyeballs that keeps her from reading the above section of the bill that says NO QUOTAS.

On with more fear mongering!