“In simpler times, we were all gay.”

At least according to Salon.com’s John Aravosis. His article, entitled How did the T get in LGBT, tackles the question of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and the current political battle going on in Congress about including transgender people in the protections afforded by the bill.

This discussion, about whether it’s right to leave transgendered people out of the bill if it helps to pass the legislation (which protects LGB people from workplace discrimination based on sexual preference) isn’t a new debate for the progressive community. In an attempt to advance what Aravosis calls “practical politics,” minority groups have been sold down the river. Examples? Women under 18 and the Emergency Contraception over the counter debate (they still need a prescription). State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and immigrants.

I understand the idea that some victories need to happen piecemeal–but these kind of compromises always leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. “Practical politics” work well for the people who don’t get cut out of the deal, but they don’t really help us move forward a broader vision for social justice.

Aravosis brings up the example of civil rights in his article as well, and the history there connects to another interesting example of compromise. When the civil rights movement was first developing, a political decision was made by the leaders to use the civil rights framework rather than the human rights framework (of which civil rights in one of eight rights afforded to human beings within this framework).

This broader vision of human rights has allowed other countries (who in many ways seem less “developed” than ours) make headway into some of the areas where we have not, because the human rights framework lays it all out in clear and indisputable ways. Mexico City for example, just legalized first trimester abortion, an argument that made headway in a heavily Catholic country because of this framework. Spain and South Africa have both legalized gay marriage.

Where would we be if we had pushed for a broader vision of human rights back in the day? Aravosis would argue that African-American’s would be without any rights at all. I have trouble believing that.

So I just read Cara’s reponse to Aravosis’ piece. She says it all, in an angry and justified tone. Check it out. My favorite part might be the title: You don’t have to be straight to be an ass.

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