The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) is by far the most important queer issue in Congress today. It would have the largest effect on the lives of the broadest segment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. ENDA also has broader support in the general public than most queer issues.
Yet, the Democrats have refused to even vote on it in this Congress. Well, it may be even worse than we thought, according to Jackie Speier. (Bay Area Reporter 7/1/10)
Addressing the crowd of gay and straight political and community leaders at Sunday's Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club Pride breakfast, Speier said, "Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi is doing all she can to ensure a majority for next year so we can pass ENDA."
Asked later in a brief interview if that meant the House would not vote on ENDA this year, Speier told the B.A.R. , "The rest of the year is in question."
"There's no question 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will be history this year," she said. "ENDA, we will have that law for sure within the next five years."
The Democrats are holding ENDA hostage until after the next election (and the next, and the next). Yet, if they don't do much better on queer issues, many queers will stay home this year and some others will vote Green. Homophobic policy turns out to be incredibly bad political strategy. Remember what happened in 1994 after Bill Clinton and the Democrats went out of their way to be homophobic?
Equality California's Executive Director Geoff Kors pointed out:
"I'm worried LGBT people won't vote in the midterms" if Pelosi's promise is not kept, he said. "That would be disastrous for LGBT rights but it's understandable. People felt they did work, gave money, and lobbied members only to see once again being pushed to the back of the line."
The general strategy among Democrats has been to provide the minimal level of support for queers to keep us quiet. ENDA also has specific obstacles that other queer issues do not. Laws against employment discrimination regulate the behavior of corporations, and the Democrats are incredibly financially dependent on corporations, their owners, and their executives. Democrats have been studiously avoiding doing anything that even slightly offends these big money donors. That's why they have done precious little to stop Global Warming and Wall St. corruption. It's also why they passed a wealthcare bill for corporations instead of an actual healthcare reform bill.
Also, don't forget that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a vicious homophobe who gay baited her way into Congress in 1986. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid belongs to the notorously racist, misogynist, and heterosexist hate group: the Mormon Church.
We are getting screwed over big time and have every right to be furious.