National News: Kameny, ENDA, EHDLA

25 06 2009

What a fabulous day it was yesterday for LGBTQ equality. Well, sort of, if only we can get the Matthew Shepard Act to move… or only if we could get rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell… or only if… blah blah blah. You get the point.

  • Frank Kameny is no longer unfit for unemployment by the Federal Government. Kameny is, truly, one of the pioneers for queer rights in this country having taken his firing from the Civil Service Commission over 50 years ago and challenging it, loudly, proudly, and without apology. HE would go on to coin the phrase “gay is good” (as a response to the “black is beautiful” movement). Today, the Office of Personnell Management, formerly the CSC, officially honored him. Neat.
  • ENDA — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — was introduced in the House of Representatives! Unlike in years past, ENDA is gender inclusive in its language. In 2007, some of you remember, the language was stricken at the suggestion of Barney Frank (D-MA) and the new bill — only protecting sexual orientation — was then endorsed by the HRC, which could probably be chalked up as one of the worst PR moves of all time. It passed the House, died in the Senate, and then-President Bush said he would veto it. Hrm. Already, HR 2981 has 10 cosponsors. Also, if you check out the Wikipedia article on ENDA, it has a great timeline that summarizes the history of the bill well (seriously, what was life like before Wikipedia?). In related news, Bil at Bilerico is — justifiably — aghast at Indiana Equality’s decision not to support ENDA because: “ENDA doesn’t make us equal – rather, it creates a new form of segregation. It does not provide protections in housing and public accommodations. There are no protections for LGBT children in the public schools where administrators continue to turn a blind eye to harassment and brutality. With ENDA, we are only marginally protected in the workplace.” You know, it’s a good point, actually. But, really, we’re already pissed about everything else, why be pissed about progress? Of course, that’s what I said in 2007 about a non-gender inclusive ENDA. Hrm.
  • The Ending Health Disparities for LGBT Americans Act (EHDLA) was introduced by Tammy Baldwin! This bill is a bit of a sleeper and one I didn’t even realize was being tossed around. 365gay.com reports the bill will do the following: “In addition to investing in data collection and research, the bill establishes non-discrimination policies for all federal health programs, provides funding for cultural competence training for health care providers, extends Medicare benefits to same-sex domestic partners, creates a new office of LGBT Health within in the Department of Health and Human Services, and provides funding for community health centers who serve the LGBT community.” In short: it will start protecting the health interests of LGBTQ Americans. Fabulous. It is HR 3001 and currently has 7 cosponsors.

Isn’t this fun, now, kids? Stuff is getting done, and quickly again. Apparently yelling and screaming worked, although I have a suspicion the ongoing drama over LGBTQ individuals pulling out of the DNC fundraiser in protest of inaction had more to do with it. A friend of mine — was it JereKeys? yea, I believe so — suggested that the reason going is so slow on a lot of these is because, so long as there is more to do, then the Democrats can continue to dangle the metaphorical carrot of equal rights and raise some serious cash.

They understand, I think, that the Republicans, if all other things were equal, would likely be the party of establishment queers if the GOP was better on our issues.

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