Nov 08 2007
After months of campaigning, pulling wires, writing letters, sending e-mails, and making telephone calls, we've managed to score a victory in the US House of Representatives - yesterday they passed a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the workplace. We've been working towards this for close to three decades now, and quite frankly it's about time. This is the twenty-first century, and the fact that it was ever possible to be fired because of whom you happen to fancy during off-hours is as antiquated a notion as serfdom. Unfortunately, and this is what I think makes the victory bittersweet at best, the bill probably would not have passed had 'transgender' been included in the list of people covered by the bill. The way American culture has developed over the years, more people can wrap their heads 'round being sexually attracted to people with the same bits as yourself, but feeling as if you've been born into the wrong body still doesn't make sense to most people.
One step at a time, I suppose. That's the only way anything ever changes without a forklift upgrade: One step at a time.
Speaking of steps, this isn't the last step in the process. The bill is now headed for Congress, where poltical analysts don't think that it stands much of a chance. Even if Congress were to pass it, George W. Bush has promised a veto of the bill (one of the few vetos that he'll have signed during seven years in office).
As if that weren't enough, the politically active side of the LGBT community has been debating ENDA for weeks. Dropping the transgender category from the bill made a lot of folks on all parts of the map angry, along with the realization that the United States isn't sufficiently evolved in consciousness or culture to handle such a thing. Supporters of the ENDA bill were also quite fatalist about the whole thing, chief among them representative Jerrold Nadler of the state of New York, who was quoted as saying "That would be a very difficult judgment to make if in fact this bill was going to be passed into law. ... But that's not our choice now. Because this bill isn't passing."
Way to be supportive, Jarrold. That gives your fellow representatives a lot of confidence, as well as bolstering their conviction that they're doing the right thing.
The only thing that we can do is start hammering on Congress to pass the bill. Remember, Congressfolk are elected by the people of the state that they're attached to - you are their constituents. They are supposed to represent the wishes of you who voted them into office. If you're the sort to contribute to someone's campaign, keep an eye on how they vote and if they don't act in your best interests, for pity's sake don't give them any money. If you're the sort to volunteer as a campaign assistant, you're closer to them than a lot of us, so don't be afraid to make the wishes of the category you identify with known. Everyone should be voting, so keeping an eye on how your elected reps vote is crucial. I've said it before and I'll say it again: They're supposed to listen to the people who elected them. If they don't... don't vote for them.
There are only two things that politicians will listen to that come from our level, and that's campaign contributions and your votes. Hit 'em where it hurts if they don't listen.