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Friday, November 8, 2013

Liberty and Justice for ALL

From Advocate:

When the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act Thursday, the chamber made history. ... because for the first time in U.S. history, the Senate approved a bill that protected transgender Americans from discrimination in the workplace.

The last time the Senate debated ENDA was back in 1996, when the bill narrowly failed. That same month, the Senate approved the now-defunct Defense of Marriage Act.

And in 2007, when Democrats controlled the House but not the Senate or the White House, out legislator Barney Frank ignited a firestorm when he announced that he was removing gender identity protections from that year's version of ENDA, because he didn't think the bill could pass while including these provisions. Frank suggested proposing a second bill that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of gender identity. ...

But this year everything's different. Longtime activists and lobbyists contend that the fervent backlash regarding a trans-exclusive ENDA taught the lobbying groups of Gay Inc. a lesson. ...

Transgender activist, author, and former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck agrees. Trans inclusion "may become a bargaining tool for the people who oppose the bill as it did in 2007," speculates Beck, "but the supporters of the bill have come to understand how important it is to keep the community together, and get freedom and equality for all people." ...

But whether or not members of the House will have a chance to debate the bill remains to be seen. On Monday, a spokeswoman for House Speaker John Boehner said the speaker believes ENDA will lead to an increase in "frivolous litigation" and will be bad for business, and falsely claimed that it's already illegal to fire someone for being gay.

... Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate, delivered a message directly to Speaker Boehner — a man she's likely well acquainted with, after serving with him in the House of Representatives from 1999 until this year. Boehner has been representing Ohio's Eighth Congressional District in the House since 1991.

Speaking with MSNBC just before she cast her final vote for ENDA, Baldwin evoked a recent blight on the Republican's record in urging him to do the right thing.

"I'd say what we said during the shutdown: Just bring it up for a vote," the senator demanded. "Because I feel that the House, if given the opportunity to vote up or down against discrimination in employment, against the LGBT community, that we'd win that vote. We'd win that day."

Beck, the trans former Navy SEAL, agrees, albeit incredulously.

"I find it unbelievable that in a country that touts equality and freedom we are still arguing over rights of equality in the work place for anyone," says Beck. "I think the problem is that people just don't know this truth, and how disrupting it really is to millions of Americans."

Full story:
Will Trans Folk Become an ENDA Bargaining Chip?

Related, from The Huffington Post:

Jesus was always preaching compassion and acceptance for the most marginalized in his time, those pushed to the edges of society by the condemnation of secular and religious authorities. He saved his sharpest criticism for those who claimed to be religious, but seemed the most reluctant to reach out in love to society's outcast. From the religiously observant priest and Levite who passed by the man mugged and left for dead (and ultimately saved by The Good Samaritan), to the religious leaders who criticized him for dining with notorious sinners, Jesus rebuked those who claimed to do the loving will of God, but had little evidence to show for it.

Full article:

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