Passing weak hate crimes legislation previously and now a bill which should overturn the military ban are significant victories for the queer community. The people who kept pushing, over the objections of partisan Democrats and Republicans in the LGBT community who would have preferred that the issues dry up and blow away, deserve a tremendous amount of credit. They have shown us that we can get results if we are persistent in fighting for them. Queer activists proved that you have to fight for yourselves. You can't rely on politicians to fight for you. (That is a lesson a lot of other progressive activists could learn from.) Now, it's time for us to keep our eyes on the prize:
ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act
Employment issues have a broader reach in the queer community than any other set of concerns. If you live in a capitalist society, you need a job to avoid utter misery. Even retired queers have to be careful, since corporations have been raiding pensions for years; federal, state, and local government officials are starting to raid their employee pensions; and Obama and other Republicans have been working to raid and bankrupt Social Security. We must fight all of this, but we also must recognize that very real possibility that retirement will be a luxury for the rich in another 20 years.
In this economic context, queers don't have the luxury of putting employment discrimination on the back burner for other issues, as pressing as they are. We need to fight for anti discrimination legislation like our economic lives depend on it. They do.
Corporate media outlets and bought politicians are much more hostile to ENDA than the general public, which supports it overwhelmingly. Those corrupt interests are working on behalf of corporate interests that don't want any restrictions on corporate behavior. That's why Obama and the corporate media have worked so hard to deflect us away from fighting for ENDA.
The Christian Taliban has tried to keep the national focus on same sex marriage because it is the one issue where the country is closely divided. It also is a problematic issue for queer organizing because most queers have no interest in ever getting married. Most queers are single, as are a narrow majority of heterosexual adults. Even in states where same sex marriage is legal, the vast majority of queer couples don't get married.
We need to make OUR movement about OUR needs and OUR interests.
Even in years where it looks highly unlikely that any queer civil rights legislation will pass, we need to keep pushing. This is a difficult struggle, and it will require a relentless push on our part so we can win during years when we theoretically have the votes required. We can't afford to shut up about this.
That ENDA must be trans inclusive. Pure justice demands it, and so does pure practicality. Failure to include gender identity based discrimination puts a huge exception which corporate lawyers can use to win cases against lesbian, gay, and bisexual victims of employment discrimination. We also need to hold elected officials accountable about putting a lot of other loopholes into ENDA, like Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi did in 2007. We need a bill with teeth that actually protects us.
Any national queer organization that is a lobbying or political organization needs to be held accountable for what it is doing to pass ENDA. Passing ENDA should be, by far, their first priority.
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