Whenda ENDA, continued

by on December 10, 2009  •  In Congress, ENDA, Transgender

I want to elaborate on my earlier post about ENDA, which some persons have misread, no doubt because my language was not clear enough.

I did NOT mean to break any news or to cause any freak-outs about the work that lies ahead in securing an inclusive ENDA.  Some readers took my reference to "issues such as restrooms" as a message that nefarious negotiations are going on or that trans inclusion is at risk.  This reaction tells me that I probably stumbled into a hornet's nest that I did not anticipate. It is possible that none of the language of ENDA as introduced will change at all.  That, however, would make it a quite unusual bill.

And as I said in my original post, it should come as no surprise – given the ENDA mess two years ago – that there would be pushback from some members of Congress on trans inclusion.  Especially because lawyers have been wrestling with restroom cases for years, I know that restroom access for employees is definitely a context where wrangling over details should be expected.  Indeed, it would be surprising if arguments over this issue did not occur.

As I also tried to describe earlier, the phase of the legislative process that ENDA has now reached is much more important than it may appear. We are at the point when the bill's original language is reviewed with a fine tooth comb, not just for the next step – the committee vote – but for the vote in the full House as well. (And then, of course, the Senate will weigh in.) So every issue, from the technical to the central, can come up during this period.  There is nothing unique to ENDA in this – it happens with every bill that is moving forward to a committee vote.

All that said, I AM worried that the lgbt community is not worried enough about ENDA.  Because of excellent work by advocates, researchers and Congressional staff, the parts of the process that are in public view – like the hearings – have been sailing along. The first predictions about the timing of floor votes were overly optimistic.  Now a tougher reality has set in.

My goal in posting on this topic is to alert people that the fight for ENDA is far from over. Winning its passage should be, imho, the top priority for 2010.


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