ENDA: Time to nail down the new language and move it

by on April 12, 2010  •  In Congress, ENDA, Transgender

Congress returned from its spring holiday recess today, and Karen Ocamb has just posted an interview she did with Rep. Barney Frank, who was in Los Angeles this past weekend, about a variety of lgbt-related bills.

Most important to me, Barney indicated that ENDA is ready to move, with the negotiations completed on its final language. I know that these sorts of negotiations, between lgbt advocates and Congressional staff, can be prolonged. But the ENDA talks have been going on for months, and the prospects for passing it, especially in the Senate, are more likely to diminish than to increase as the clock ticks away.  IMHO, passing ENDA ought to be the number one priority – out of all lgbt issues – until we see POTUS signing it into law.

Here is Barney's current take:

“I’m hoping to get a vote on it in committee [House Committee on Education and Labor]… And we’ve worked hard. The chairman of the committee involved – George Miller – had a major role in health care. But within the last few weeks, just before we left [for recess], we had a meeting in the Speaker’s office [Speaker Nancy Pelosi] with the Majority Leader [Steny Hoyer] and myself and chairman of the committee George Miller – and we had a lot of things worked out. So what the committee needs to do now is make sure we have the votes…."

 Consistent with what I have heard elsewhere, Barney described the compromise language agreed to by lgbt advocates, which is necessary to get the bill through with trans inclusion:

“Essentially, there are full protections for people who are transgender with a couple of provisos: One – the employer can ask for a gender consistent dress code. No mustaches and dresses. Two – people with one set of genitals do not have a legal right to get naked in front of the other set, is the basic way to put it. Some accommodation has to be made there. If you insist on the right for unrestricted access to bathrooms – we lose. And we’re making some accommodations here. And we worked it out with the transgender community." 

I haven't seen the precise language of the changes, but even with them, even if the other side's concerns are silly and offensive, there is no question that ENDA will be a huge breakthrough for everyone covered by it, and one that is long overdue. Time to put a bow on it.


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