Saturday, November 10, 2007


"'Today, we witnessed the making of civil rights history in the U.S. House of Representatives by the passing of ENDA,' said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. 'This vote by Congress is an important step at ensuring that millions of gay and lesbian Americans will never again have to go to work in fear of losing their jobs because of who they are.'" [For the full comment from the HRC, see here.]

If I didn't think Solomnese was serious, I'd think it was some kind of a sick joke! Our Transgendered sisters and brothers are betrayed, thrown to the wolves, excluded from the "community" of LGBT people, and the President of the HRC, an organization that is supposed to be committed to acquiring civil rights for LGBT people (Notice, when it solicits donations on its website, it states: "Make your contribution today and join a grassroots force of over 700,000 members and supporters standing together for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality."), calls the passing of a non-inclusive ENDA "...the making of civil rights history...."?

And what makes this whole bizarre scenario surreal is the fact that this bill that has so many holes in it, as well as its exclusion of Transgendered people, will be surely vetoed by Bush and, believe me, his veto will not be over-ridden by Congress!

And to state that, "This vote by Congress is an important step at ensuring that millions of gay and lesbian Americans will never again have to go to work in fear of losing their jobs because of who they are," is absolute nonsense! This bill, as I understand it, would allow religious organizations to fire and/or not hire anyone who is Gay; would allow all organizations and employers to discriminate against any employee who is perceived to act in a way not culturally or personally defined as being in accord with that person's gender.

The HRC and assorted "liberals" have shown themselves to be the kind of people who will not only sell out others for the sake of political expediency and/or rank selfishness, but will also sell others' out for mere crumbs of incrementalism that Massah may provide them!

As evidence for this contention, the poll results, sponsored by the HRC, regarding attitudes toward the non-inclusive ENDA bill of 514 LGBT people, as reported on Towle Road, shows that 67.7% of the respondents agreed with the following statement: "National gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organizations should support this proposal because it helps gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers and is a step toward transgender employment rights." I have no reason to assume that this is by any means a random or representative sample of LGBT people, yet I wouldn't be at all surprised if similar findings weren't obtained if a representative random sample of Gay people were polled!

As I wrote to a friend of mine the other day regarding this issue, "I think far more than internalized homophobia is the culprit here. I think it's basic satisfaction with crumbs, and as long as that attitude prevails (and it seems to me it is prevailing), not only will there be no meaningful civil rights accruing to LGBT people, but their disdainful attitude toward meaningful activism will further embolden the haters to retard, prevent, and even erase what current semblance of civil rights and respect that LGBT people now enjoy."

If we're going to count on sellouts, politicians and organizations who will betray others and throw them under the bus, those who will betray the principle of full and equal acquisition of civil rights, LGBT people will not only continue to remain second-class citizens, but will find that they will lose many of the civil rights protections they already have; irrevocably fracture the LGBT "community" in the process. Talk about playing into the hands of the homophobes!

When dealing with a school yard bully, one quickly learns that by trying to be nice, by trying to accommodate that bully, that bully ups the ante and escalates his/her attacks. The same holds true regarding the bullies who seek to keep LGBT people "in their place" as second class citizens! If we don't demand full and equal civil rights, and nothing less, for everyone, and continue to agitate for those rights until they are obtained, this ordeal, if for many it is, indeed, an ordeal, will last interminably.

As long as all too many Gay people, assorted politicians, and assorted Gay Rights organizations can be seen to be willing to settle for incrementalism, such as Domestic Partnerships, Civil Unions, and a non-inclusive ENDA, it is to that degree that the bullies will become emboldened to up the ante and fight that much more ferociously to preserve their stake in the status quo that promises to further retard the acquisition of full and equal civil rights!

If we don't stand up to the bullies and demand full and equal civil rights for everyone, the bullies not only win, but LGBT people will lose, and lose by their own willingness to settle for what crumbs are offered them to keep them quiet and keep them in their place!

Self-respect demands that all LGBT people and people of good will never settle for the crumbs of incrementalism; never settle for being viewed and treated as second-class citizens; never sell out the principles of fairness and "equal justice for all"; never sell out our Transgender brothers and sisters or anyone else, as by such actions full and equal civil rights and respect will never be obtained, and further contempt will be heaped upon LGBT people.

And no one with an ounce of self-respect can stand for such treatment!
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Hope to see this essay posted soon at Pam's House Blend, Jerry. You've unearthed the main problem with the Gay Rights movement as it exists today: Self-respect, or rather, a lack of it. You and I recently learned something about why LGBT folk have embraced the name "queer" so fervently. It's because deep down, many of them actually believe themselves to be queer/wrong/abnormal/aberrant human beings. If you believe yourself to be a freak, you'll rationalize other people seeing you that way, and you'll make allowances for being treated with disrespect. That's the mentality we're dealing with, from the Human Rights Campaign on down to the patron of a small-town Gay bar.

It's particularly shameful that Transpeople were stiffed on this ENDA bill, because they were the ones of our number who first demanded respect from society. Read up on LGBT history, and you'll see that it was the overt gender outlaws, the crossdressers, the butch women and the effeminate men who would sass the police, speak out in court and decry the injustices being done to them. Without their kind of moxie, there never would have been a Stonewall, never would have been an Ellen DeGeneres, never would have been an HRC!

Yet for displaying that kind of courage, we put the shaft to their descendants and patronizingly ask them to "wait" for equality, even while we vent deep-seated hostility at them in the Gay blogosphere. And as you pointed out to me privately, this is nothing but a dummy bill . . . how deep would we plunge the knife if ENDA really had a chance of becoming law? I never dreamed we were capable of such brazen moral bankruptcy. Jerry, how can the transgender community ever trust us again?

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, Don Charles. You ask, "Jerry, how can the transgender community ever trust us again?"

My answer is, they can't but, even more importantly, there is no "us" as the LGBT "community" now stands, as I perceive it! To even think to betray one of the family for selfish gain and/or for political expediency, we clearly see that the main problem as it now stands is not the homophobic hater, but those who have such little self-respect and lack of consideration for others and for the principle of equality for all, that they will sell out for crumbs, and for crumbs that mean virtually nothing in the long-term.

Unless and until the LGBT community and allies see our fortunes as being inextricably linked; see that it's "all for one and one for all," the homophobes win, and win without having to move out of their comfort zones, laughing all the way to the voting booth.