Since we don’t really publish on weekends, we missed much of the big news around the National Equality March. The short story: Obama promised to end DADT, but didn’t lay out any kind of timetable. Based on messages coming from the administration recently, that’s pretty much an empty promise. Many involved with the March lay the blame at the foot of the HRC, it’s “battered wife mentality,” and complacency on the part of the whole community. As Exhibit A, many bloggers held up last week’s letter to supporters from HRC Director Joe Solomonese that many argue takes pressure off Obama until the very last day of his second term. Now that the march has ended, though, what next? Jillian Weiss at the Bilerico Project argues for a full-court press on the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, currently before both houses of congress.
The last march in 2000 fizzled amid charges of embezzlement, and no strong follow-up activism was done to advance its goals. This time around, Weiss says we should keep the pressure on “swing votes” in the Senate and House, who are both considering the ENDA bill. She writes: “Of all our initiatives, that will affect the largest number of people in our community in the most important area of our lives: the ability to get and keep a job. And it’s achievable in the next few months.”
MN Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken have both signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, but Weiss lists 11 Representatives and 16 Senators who haven’t made up their minds, and might be susceptible to pressure.
Saturday night, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign’s fundraising dinner, where he promised an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Many bloggers tore into the president and the HRC, calling the speech “highfalutin’ bullshit” (Andrew Sullivan), and the HRC lapdogs. But the Obama administratoin seems to have already made up its mind – the legions of queers and their allies behind the National Equality March can take a hike. NBC reporter John Harwood quoted an anonymous Obama advisor as calling the internet-based bloggers and activists who helped drive support for the March part of the “internet left fringe.” I suppose Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is part of that same fringe demanding action now on a range of rights issues?
This dismissive rhetoric from the administration bolsters old criticims of the HRC that are being reitterated in the wake of Obama’s speech. Some spray-painted their objections on the walls of the HRC’s D.C. headquarters, while others accused the HRC of pre-emptively capitulating to the administration’s demands for “patience.” The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan went so far as to call it “battered wife syndrome.” (Text of the letter here)
It is simply astonishing from an organization that is supposed to be dogging this president to secure our civil rights. You don’t telegraph that it’s okay for him to wait until 2017 to keep his promises. That is, if he gets re-elected, if we still control the Congress, if we’re not having more “distracting” wars, if it’s not a close election…
There may be one bright side to all this: Bilerico Project blogger Rebecca Juro said Obama’s HRC speech showed he might, just may be conscious of trans rights and the widespread demands for an Employee Non-Discrimination Act that includes protections based on gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation.
Ohio – Thanks to some intense advocacy, anyone in Ohio wishing to change their picture on their driver’s license and their listed gender to comport with the gender they present are going to have a much easier time of it. (Gay Peoples’ Chronicle)