Thursday, May 7, 2009

N as in....

...New Hampshire, Nevada and - No.

The recent passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the House of Representatives by a fairly substantial 249 to 175 vote was very encouraging. While 17 Democrats voted against the bill (also known as the Matthew Shepard Act), 18 Republicans supported it mitigating the Democratic defections. The law is clearly needed - a similar version is now in the Senate as SB 909 - but it is being viewed as a test case for future LGB/T votes, especially the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in which us transpeople were evicted. A trans-inclusive ENDA is expected at some point, probably this fall.

Part of the abandonment of us transpeople was based on math - that started at 30, then grew to 48 Representatives who were nervous-kneed about supporting "gender identity" in the bill. Since the LGB's willingly and publicly cast the T's aside, we've seen some others who run for cover when the opposition characterizes legislation to give us fair treatment in employment and society as "pedophile protections" or "bathroom bills". While there has been some turnover from the 110th to the 111th Congress - notably gains in the number of Democrats - the basic math is likely fairly the same.

If the nervous-kneed total 30 - the possible vote becomes 219 to 200 and ENDA passes. 48, however, remains an insurmountable differential. So will ENDA become EDA (Employment Discrimination Act - allowing everyone, including gays and lesbians to officially discriminate against transgenders) - this fall? Will Barney Frank and the Human Rights Campaign again push for an "incremental" approach to equality and introduce EDA and not ENDA? Following the House vote on the hate crimes measure, I had hopes for an inclusive ENDA, now I'm not so sure.

The New Hampshire legislature took up the issue of an inclusive non-discrimination statute on the state level and quickly cowered into a puddle of goo when it got painted by the opposition - and the local LGB leaders were unable to counter the media's acceptance of the phrase - as the "bathroom bill". In the end, no one...not one legislator...voted to keep the transpeople included into the bill - the final vote was 0-24, even though some Democrats decried how the measure was portrayed, they still caved in.

The Nevada legislature won't even consider "gender identity" at all. Their measure is sailing through Carson City, but only for gays and lesbians - and this is the home state of the Senate President Harry Reid. If eventually enacted, I wonder just how long gays and lesbians will be allowed to discriminate against transpeople before the gays and lesbians decide to "come back" for the T's.

If these two states are willing to abandon transgenders so completely, they are clearly providing cover and political excuse for Congress to abandon transgenders for a promised E*DA bill (* - it won't include the N part). Will they...will the LGB community...stand for complete equality and inclusion? I'm not going to hold my breath.