Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Further Reflections on ENDA

After the House passed ENDA last week, a New York Times editorial called the vote “a significant, if long overdue, breakthrough for equality and fairness.” There’s no question that it was good to see such a high level of support in the House. And there’s no question that it is outrageous for gay men and lesbians to lose their jobs because of their sexual orientation. I am reminded that many gay men and lesbians across the country are much more vulnerable than I am in my employment. They may live with greater economic insecurity, in a social environment more openly hostile than mine, or in a state that provides them no legal protections on the state level.

Yet it’s also frustrating that we will have no vote to measure the House’s support for similarly protecting transgender people – and we are left with the sense that we could have done more. Since the president will not sign this bill into law (if it makes it through the Senate) what was accomplished by leaving transgender people outside the circle of its protection?

Lee Swislow

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Incrementalism and Progress

There has been much talk in the recent debate on ENDA about the reality of political compromise and the need to accept incremental progress.

Incrementalism is a fact of political life, it’s true. It is not, however, something we need hold up as ideal, or even the best we can do. In the midst of political maneuvering and discussions of the need for compromise, it is critically important that we remain strong in voicing our vision of full equality, lest we cease to aspire to more than a compromised version of it.

GLAD’s work is primarily in the realm of impact litigation, where we have an opportunity to make dramatic progress on civil rights; attempting dramatic change through incremental, compromise-based legislation nearly inevitably results in some level of disappointment.

But the legislative process, imperfect as it may be, is also key to advancing civil rights. And it is therefore critical that those of us who have a vision of what equality truly means not be complacently satisfied with incremental change, but continue to raise our voices and work together to ensure that that uncompromised vision remains a part of the political conversation.

Lee Swislow