Last night President Obama (or his staff) went to Twitter and Facebook to post his support for ENDA, the embattled 20+ year old bill that has been sitting in Congress that would grant the LGBT community workplace protections from being fired because of who they are which they currently do not have in the United States.
In addition President Obama’s political arm is raising money from supporters to push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Organizing for Action, the successor organization to Obama’s presidential campaign apparatus that advocates for his policy positions, sent out an email from Executive Director Jon Carson to supporters on Thursday with the subject line, “It’s 2013 — this shouldn’t be legal.”
“A lot of Americans don’t know that it’s still legal in some states to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Yep — it’s 2013, and every American still doesn’t have that basic protection under the law.”
The email continues to say that ENDA would rectify this issue by making sure “no one can legally be discriminated against in the workplace for being gay or transgender.”
A link within the email redirects to the OFA site, which allows the reader to sign a petition calling on Congress to pass ENDA.
After the reader enters an email address, another page pops up asking for a donation to OFA in several designated amounts up to $1,000. But what is NOT CLEAR whether the donations will be used for ENDA, the OFA or other purposes.
Meanwhile in the LGBT community we have TWO groups now that want to be the ones representing (and taking the credit) for ENDA if it passes battling for control.
First we have Tico Almeida President and founder of Freedom to Work, a grassroots organization that was launched in the fall of 2011 which started the new momentum towards bringing ENDA up before Congress yet again. FTW worked closely with Sen. Jeff Merkley setting up all the groundwork. Unfortunately though Almedia, also helped write the current religious exemption in the new ENDA which basically will grant religious business institutions including hospitals and schools the right to continue discriminating against LGBT individuals legally in hopes of an easier passage through Congress
Next up in the ENDA Control Battle Royal we have the newly formed (and “Gay Inc.” big bucks backed.) Americans for Workplace Opportunity created just 3 months ago in July led by the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
The AWO steering Committee includes the ACLU, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Unity Fund, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Center for Transgender Equality. AWO was formed after much of the current ENDA ground work was done by Almedia and FTW. Almedia’s group was not not asked to join the board, and was denied inclusion after asking. (One has to wonder where the HRC and the Task Force has been for the past few years on the issue that only NOW do they form this group.)
Also besides these two groups we also have the remnants of the now defunct, original “United ENDA” coalition from the early 2000’s still milling about in the background.
So can one really wonder why ENDA still sits waiting after 20+ years and our LGBT brothers and sisters are still discriminated in 29 states?
The answer is politics. Politics from within our government and petty politics from within our community. Which in the end hurts ENDA’s chances even more.