Public interest group transition memos: study the contrasts

by on December 5, 2008  •  In Congress

The Obama transition project is publishing on its web page a list of the groups with whom transition teams are meeting and at least some of the documents furnished to them by those groups (the page says that the groups have consented to the posting of these memos). I've been pretty skeptical about this website; since it seemed to me to be serving more as publicity for Obama than as anything really meaningful.  But now I'm a believer — this is the kind of information that has never been available to the public before, and I think – hope – it will create a new standard for incoming administrations.

The page has only a few listings now, but should grow over time.  Already up are memos from the ACLU, a coalition of reproductive rights organizations, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the major voice of civil rights in DC and a coalition to which every rights group, including the lgbt groups, belongs. You simply don't enact progressive legislation without the support of these groups.

The ACLU has produced an extremely impressive 100-plus page memo, that we will be able to use in future years to measure how much this administration and Congress have or have not achieved.  It prominently features lgbt issues, including a call for an executive order to protect gender identity for federal employees and to add sexual orientation and gender identity anti-discrimination protections as a requirement for federal contractors. (I agree with these as top priorities.) The repro rights memo, 55 pages long, is also impressive.

What happened to LCCR? Its 3 pages of bullet points look sad by comparison. Most significant, LCCR does not even mention ENDA, the primary civil rights bill for lgbt people that will go before Congress in the next several years.  ENDA's absence seems to speak volumes. At a minimum, it creates the appearance that LCCR is distancing itself from lgbt issues.  I really hope I'm wrong about this, and that lgbt issues are all over other LCCR communications to the transition team. But this memo has nothing on ENDA, DoMA, DADT or actions by executive order.  What's the problem, LCCR?

UPDATE – LCCR was asked by lgbt groups not to include ENDA at the time when they drafted this memo,  pending further discussions among all the ENDA supportive groups regarding the gender identity issue.  Those discussions have been positive, and LCCR looks forward to pressing for enactment of ENDA, as well as a hate crimes bill (which is included in the memo).


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