The Enemy promises to move past the ENDA family feud, but it's not easy when people continue to write thoughtful (and thought provoking) pieces like Rex Wockner's post on gay identity, trans identity, and what those terms might mean.
"We are deeply disappointed that House
leadership decided to ignore the position of a vast majority of LGBT
organizations, ignore the legal assessment that this bill may not even
provide adequate protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, and
ignore the fact that this vote might make it more difficult to persuade
members of Congress to support a fully inclusive bill in the future. We
are also disappointed that House leadership forced many members of its
own caucus to choose between voting for a bill not supported by most in
the LGBT community, or voting against a civil rights bill. This entire
process has been painful, divisive and unnecessary. And worst of all,
we went through all of this on behalf of a bill that the president has
already said he would veto.
HRC head Joe Solmonese called the move a "pragmatic and strategic decision." Yesterday, the HRC released a poll which claims that 70% of the LGBT community supported ENDA without gender identity protections.
The Enemy is not surprised. What is sorta' surprising though is
the amount of venom being spat – particularly by our community
*leaders* – at those of us who dared to discuss/consider/beg/demand an
The Enemy has not yet commented on the ENDA meltdown because, in all honesty, The Enemy is not sure where he comes down on the issue. On the one hand, yes, it seems to be the height of perversity to struggle for 30 years to enact history making (so we're told) civil rights legislation, only to scuttle it at the 11th hour over some arguably last minute addition.
On the other hand, full inclusion of transgendered folk is simply nonnegotiable, at least it is to a significant portion of the LGBT community.
Either way, it seems to The Enemy that an open discussion about the inclusion of the 'T', both as part of LGBT identity and in the pending ENDA legislation, is reasonable enough.
It was in this spirit of open and frank discussion that The Enemy read the John Aravosis piece on Salon and found his argument compelling...until he read Susan Stryker's responding piece and exclaimed "oh, snap!".
Finally, after mulling over James Kirchick in the Washington Blade The Enemy has arrived at a crossroads. Yes, it makes total political sense to proceed with ENDA as originally conceived. Politics is compromise and postponing the inclusion of the 'T' for another day and another battle would be pragmatic and politicaly savvy. The Enemy thinks we, the LGBT community, can make this 'Demonic Deal' and walk away with a clear conscience, if a little regret.
But should we?
The Enemy, as crazy as it sounds, believes every marginalized group that strives for inclusion gifts something essential and unique to the civil-rights struggle. Maybe this is our opportunity to contribute that something. To state clearly and concisely, this time through action instead of rhetoric, that none of us will eat until all of us can eat.
What's wrong with a little ideological purity now and then? An historic 'Big Gesture' that elevates the discourse above mere pragmatism. Whether sitting at a lunch counter getting the crap kicked out of you, or dying alone in some filthy Victorian prison for the right to vote. These seemingly futile sacrifices serve as reminder to ourselves, and the world at large, that the human dignity that we demand is about more than a legislative process or 'winning'.
Sure, it would be easy enough to dismiss such a sacrifice as a pointless exercise in martyrdom. A very real suicide jump from some exalted point of principle for no real gain. Hollow Heroics? maybe, But this country was conceived by a lot of people scaling some pretty lofty ideals, dismissing such efforts as 'naive' seems to weaken the very foundation on which we — The People — base any of our claims to freedom and justice .
Pragmatism has an essential place in the quiver of strategies we deploy in our day to day battle for full equality, but so should principle and idealism.
To forget these values in practice diminishes us all.
If you're in any doubt, just watch the evening news. For too long now we've endured an administration that seems hell bent on bringing this nation to it's knees with it's culture of expedience, realpolitik and compromise. The so called opposition, the Stockholm-syndrome Democrats, deflected and trapped as they are in an OCD loop of fun-house mirrors, insist that our only hope lies in reflecting the same behavior but hoping for a different outcome. Madness.
Andrew Sullivan complains that:
Of course, the United ENDA
trans-first'ers still have a chance to beat President Bush's advisers
to the punch, and derail historic gay rights legislation because it
doesn't also expressly protect transsexuals, cross-dressers and
transvestites as well. If they succeed, whether in the House or by
scaring the Senate away from the legislation, the president will owe
them a debt of gratitude.
Part of Sullivan's complaint seems to be that 'we' would be effectively doing the Republicans dirty work if we withdrew our support the ENDA. That that's exactly what 'they' want us to do. Perhaps, but The Enemy asks should we really let significant internal decisions like this be defined by Republicans? Are we're focusing to much on conservative wants and needs?.
Perhaps the LGBT community has inadvertently helped itself to a larger moment here, larger than it's own immediate, and very real, needs. Whether you spell 'we' with a 'T' or not, there is a teachable moment here in which the LGBT community can (re)connect it's own needs to those of the greater population, and remind 'The People', ourselves included, of our better angels.