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Thursday, November 08, 2007

John Aravosis on ENDA - Where We Go From Here


Now, the other odd thing that the folks trying to kill ENDA keep arguing (I'm sorry, I don't mean Pat Robertson, I mean NGLTF and their allies), is that since Bush said he'll veto ENDA there is no chance it will become law. Again, that kind of argument shows a serious lack of understanding of DC politics and legislative process. I've written this before, but I'm going to write it again since too many of the "kill ENDA" crowd quite literally don't seem to understand how a bill becomes a law, yet they're demanding that they be allowed to take the lead in making ENDA become the law of the land. That prospect is a bit frightening. After all, we saw how well they did trying to get the votes to pass Tammy Baldwin's transgender amendment. All the queen's horses and all the queen's men failed, even though they claimed to have the entire gay community behind them and claimed that Congress and America are generally supportive of transgender rights. Apparently, not so much.

Let's recap the way the legislative process actually works in DC:

1. As already stated, we have until November 2008 to get the bill passed in the Senate. This "wait until 2009" stuff is nonsense.

2. The scuttlebutt in town is that Senators Kennedy and Collins are still planning on introducing their version of ENDA in the Senate this Congress.

3. Whether or not we have the votes to get it passed in the Senate, ENDA can be added on to other must-pass legislation, such as funding bills, that Republicans would be loathe to filibuster. This isn't a rare procedural trick. It's standard procedure in DC. You just need to convince the Democratic leadership to do it. And that takes some major lobbying.

4. The same tactic, adding ENDA on to a must-pass bill, is also a way of getting it around a threatened presidential veto. If ENDA is tacked on to a bill that Bush desperately wants or needs, he then has to choose between signing the bill, and making ENDA law, or vetoing his desperately wanted/needed legislation that ENDA has been attached to.

None of this means for certain that we will get ENDA passed this Congress (meaning, before Nov. 2008). But to suggest that ENDA is dead until 2009 shows a lack of understanding about the legislative process and how things work in this town. We are dealing with the civil rights of 30 million gay Americans. We can't afford to have a coalition of political neophytes take the lead when they don't even understand how a bill becomes a law. (Or, maybe they do know that we can still make ENDA the law of the land this Congress, but they're still simply trying to kill ENDA because it doesn't include transgender people - if they can convince you that all is lost, then it really is.)

ENDA can become law in the next year. But it's not going to be easy. It will take some major chutzpah and some major lobbying and pressure to make it so (to pressure the Dems not to let ENDA slide until after the election). The only thing that's certain is that we will lose ENDA, we will fail to pass it this Congress, if we believe those who incorrectly tell us that we've already lost. They may have lost - we have not.

I often disagree with Aravosis, but he's dead on with this one.