Friday, October 19, 2007

Trans-Exclusive ENDA Bill Advances

A version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act without gender identity and expression advanced in the House yesterday despite lobbying and last minute pleas from many within the movement for LGBT rights to block the amended bill. The controversy erupted late last month after Congressman Barney Frank [D-Mass.], with the apparent backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.], introduced two versions of ENDA which separated sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. The National Lesbian & Gay Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality and more than 200 other national, statewide and even local organizations blasted the politically calculated move.

The Human Rights Campaign, which maintains support of the inclusive ENDA, has remained conspicuously quiet after the controversy erupted and has faced numerous criticism and even protests as a result of its own calculation. Others, such as former Washington Bladeeditor Chris Crain, have expressed support for Frank's decision to introduce two bills. What remains is a bitter (and arguably nasty) rift between the 'left wing' and the 'right ring' of the movement for LGBT rights. This debate will obviously continue as lawmakers on Capitol Hill -- and eventually President George W. Bush -- seal ENDA's fate. Transgender people must not be left behind. The movement itself has made transgender people part of its umbrella advocacy. Now is not the time for it to turn its back on them in the name of political expediency.

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