ENDA leaves committee without gender indentity protection


The revised Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in the workplace, but with references to gender identity removed, is headed to a vote on the House floor following approval Thursday in committee.

The House Education and Labor Committee voted 27 – 21 to mark up the legislation, sending it to a full vote in the House.

Another minority group gets sold up the river in the name of political compromise. Really disappointing.

Happy Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day logo designed by Keith Haring








Today is National Coming Out Day! In honor of which, I’m wearing my All Families Matter rainbow button. According to Alison Bechdel (and Wikipedia) National Coming Out day was founded in 1987. Share your coming out story with someone, or wear a rainbow button or sticker.

Why the T in LGBT is here to stay

A great response to the Aravosis article I posted on earlier this week (see below) was just put up at Salon. Susan Stryker writes a witty, angry and totally on point response to Aravosis’ small-minded arguments about gender identity inclusion in the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA). Her best point? That simply having protection against discrimination for sexual preference or sexuality only protects those in the community who are straight-acting.

This full version of ENDA, rather than the nearly introduced one that stripped away previously agreed-upon protections against gender-based discrimination and would protect only sexual orientation, is the one that is of potential benefit to all Americans, and not just to a narrow demographic slice of straight-looking, straight-acting gays and lesbians. It doesn’t really even do that much good for this group, as Lambda Legal points out, because of a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.

Aravosis, not being one to mince words when it comes to mincing meat, wants to know what he, as a gay man, has “in common with a man who wants to cut off his penis, surgically construct a vagina, and become a woman.” The answer is “gender.” The last time I checked my dictionary, homosexuality had something to with people of one gender tending to fall in love with people of the same gender. The meaning of homosexuality thus depends on the definition of gender. However much Aravosis might wish to cut the trannies away from the rest of his herd, thereby preserving a place free of gender trouble for just plain gay guys such as himself, that operation isn’t conceptually possible. Gender and sexuality are like two lines intersecting on a graph, and trying to make them parallel undoes the very notion of homo-, hetero- or bisexuality.

You rock Susan. Read the whole article here.

“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.

When Three Parents are Better Than Two

There was an Op-Ed last week in the NYTimes in reaction to a court case in PA recently, where a state Superior Court ruled that three parents were obligated to provide child support for two children. The children were conceived by two lesbian parents with the sperm of a friend. The couple is no longer together, and all three parents were given visitation rights and child support obligations by the court.

In her Op-Ed, Marquardt argues that these types of rulings (and there have been similar ones made in foreign courts in the past) are bad for children. She argues that it leads to instability for children, who can get shuffled between multiple homes (maybe now even five!). She cites a study she completed that found that even children in good divorces, where both parents stay in their lives, “grow up too soon.”

Then she attacks polygamy–based on the idea that these triple parents might want to live together, and that turns into the possibility for group marriage protections. Her piece ends with a plea for the defense of the two person legal parenthood.

The Op-Ed definitely made me think. Should more than two people be given legal rights over a child? Courts have already expanded the definition of parenthood–it no longer is based solely on biological relationships. If two people are married, and one gives birth to a child, the husband is automatically placed on the birth certificate (without proof of paternity). Step-parents adopting their step-children is becoming common place, and more and more children are being raised by just one parent. So why should we fight people who want to find new ways to parent?

It’s the legal protection that always becomes the issue–when should the courts mandate or protect someone’s right as a parent. These debates are inevitably going to be played out as LGBT family creation and marriage equality continue to press the issue and courts are forced to make decisions. If people are parenting in alternative situations, picking and choosing which two people get to be legal parents isn’t going to make the situation any easier for kids.

While I understand Marquardt’s arguments that these situations can create instability (I myself am a product of what she classifies as a “good” divorce situation), what’s the alternative? Two stable households are definitely preferable to one unstable (and unhappy one), and while I did have to adjust to two different value situations, I was also able to benefit from two different support systems and parenting styles. And kids growing up to fast? Look around us Elizabeth, at television, video games, the internet. I don’t think the courts can reign that in, no matter how hard they try.

Nancy Goldstein and Wife featured in NYTimes

In a NYTimes article today, Nancy Goldstein, a reproductive justice rockstar from the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and her wife are featured for being one of the same sex couples to be recognized by NY State for a marriage ceremony they had in Massachussets in 2004.

Unfortunately they are part of a small number of couples who are being recognized, and only because of a legal technicality. Goldstein and her partner were married before the July 2006 NY Supreme Court decision which came out against same-sex marriage. Only couples married between May 2004 and July 2006 will be recognized by NY State.