Saturday, June 19, 2010

Did Kors & Kendell Kill ENDA For This Year?

(Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Geoff Kors, and Michelle Ortiz of NCLR's board, on May 21. Photo by Bill Wilson.)

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, starting in 1994, has been dangled before the gay community as a federal piece of legislation that would address the gross lack of work-place protections for gay people across the nation. ENDA has been used by gay Democratic Party leaders, especially at the Human Rights Campaign, to raise millions of dollars, and the hopes of millions of gay Americans.

And in 2010 the gays were again screwed without a condom or lubrication by Democrats such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi regarding ENDA. For a while in the spring, Gay Inc leaders assured the community our Democratic friends were gonna vote on and potentially finally pass ENDA.

Back in November, activist Kip Williams, who is now part of Gay Inc through his new well-funded org GetEQUAL, went with a few friends to Pelosi's San Francisco office and rabble-roused. Afterward, Williams shared his thoughts on

My friends and I will be heading back to Pelosi's office soon. And this time we want a plan, complete with achievable goals, benchmarks, and ways that we can help. We're not going away [...]

But I don't want to get in the trap of the laundry list. They'll throw us a bone or two, and tell us to be quiet and wait again. [...]

ENDA is much more important to me personally. I'm just saying that we've got Pelosi on the record in support of ENDA, so it doesn't make sense to pressure her about it. [...]

Since then, GetEQUAL has staged two actions at her DC and SF offices, involving activists getting arrested when they wouldn't vacate the premises. And much publicity came of the actions, along with verbal promises from Democratic Party and Gay Inc leaders that ENDA was a do-able item:

In an hour-long telephone conference call with representatives of six LGBT groups on [May 17], House Speaker Nancy Pelosi restated her promise that both ENDA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would get votes this year.

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), said Pelosi, “in no uncertain terms, without any equivocation or evasion, stated several times that ENDA was her priority and that it would move in this Congress — and there was no question.” [...]

The day after that call, Kendell and Gay Inc leaders, including Williams and Robin McGehee of GetEQUAL, staged a well-attended butt-kissing rally on the sidewalk outside the Speaker's district office. NCLR laid out what was at stake:

We are ready. We have the support. We must have a vote on ENDA now.

If we don’t get a vote in the House very soon, we will not have time to get ENDA passed in the Senate. If this doesn’t happen now, it could be years before we have another chance to enact this most basic civil rights law. [...]

Um, notice that NCLR omitted anything about what the gay community would do if we don't get the promised ENDA vote. How about at least lashing the Dems with organic vegan wet noodles? All they say is that it will be years before we may get another time to push the bill with any hope of passage.

The same day as the rally is when Williams went into the bank to deposit a $250,000 check into GetEQUAL's account, but I don't know if there's a connection between the generous gift from gay millionaire Jonathan Lewis and GetEQUAL no longer pressuring Pelosi with direct action. However, those dollars, and other reasons such as no public meetings organized by GetEQUAL, is part of why I put the org in the Gay Inc realm.

Check out this video, at the 1:13 mark, and listen to Kendell declare her love, and on behalf of all of us too, for Pelosi and her hollow ENDA promises:

Hey, Kate, who is this "we" you're talking about? I missed the public meeting you held at NCLR where we all had a chance to vote on whether we love Pelosi on ENDA or not.

Two days following that sidewalk love-fest for Pelosi, Geoff Kors, wealthy gay Democratic Party supporter, and his Equality California org, quietly organized a fundraiser for Democratic gay politicians, that happened on the eve of Harvey Milk Day. The star attraction? None other than the Speaker herself. She was not zapped by GetEQUAL, and by all accounts, the evening was free of rude queers pushing for ENDA.

With no date set for a House vote on ENDA, the kissy-kissy relationship with Pelosi from another Gay Inc component, the San Francisco Pride Committee, continued into June. On June 2, Pride issued a release heralding an agreement with Pelosi that allows her to address the Pride festival in SF's Civic Center Plaza, via satellite.

Pride omitted ENDA and every other important gay issue we have before Congress, in their announcement. But two paragraphs were devoted to praising Pelosi:

First elected to Congress in 1987, in 2002 she became the first woman in history to lead a major party in the House. In 2007, she made history once again when she was elected as the first female Speaker of the House, making her the highest-ranking female politician in American history.

In addition to Speaker Pelosi's video address, an official letter from her "to honor San Francisco's proud history of advocacy for equal rights and to honor the contributions of the LGBT community to our city, our state, and our nation" will be distributed through SF Pride's annual Inside Pride Guide magazine [...]

Hello, Pride Committe? We aren't getting jack from Pelosi and her buddies, and you're handing her a golden opportunity on a silver platter to make a cameo appearance at the Pride event. Did I miss Pelosi breaking into a sweat for ENDA recently and somehow deserving of the Pride broadcast?

So, we have GetEQUAL breaking its promise to keep going back to Pelosi's offices, Kendell swearing undying love for her, Kors getting another photo-op, and Pride giving Pelosi time at our June 27 celebration. What did it all produce, in terms of forcing Pelosi to keep her promised ENDA vote this year?

The answer comes from a June 11 presser Pelosi held, in which a Washington Blade reporter asked about ENDA:

During her weekly press conference, Pelosi said in response to a Blade inquiry on ENDA’s prospects that lawmakers “still have to finish ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”

Referencing the successful House vote May 27 to attach repeal to Defense Department budget legislation, she said, “And now, of course, we’ll go — after the bill passes in the Senate — we’ll go to conference. But our work is not finished in that regard, so one thing at a time.” [...]

If the gays are lucky on DADT reform, and lots of other stars align in our favor after the November mid-term elections, and the Democrats and President Obama are not too worried about getting ready for the 2012 presidential election, we may/perhaps/possibly/likely/conceiveably/potentially get a vote on ENDA.

Kors and Kendell had much help in showing Pelosi there would be no serious consequences to breaking another damn promise to the gays.

If any gays want to kick Pelosi's butt over ENDA, they'll first have to push aside the tongues of leaders at NCLR, EQCA, HRC, GetEQUAL, SF Pride and lots of other Gay Inc orgs busy spit-polishing her derriere.


Anonymous said...

I hate to see GetEqual selling out to money and mollification. I think every LGBT person in California should throw eggs at Pelosi until she screams and yells on the floor of Congress for ENDA. Gays need to hold our politicians by the balls (and that includes YOURS, Pelosi) the way that the NRA and the Religious Right get their way by holding the balls of Republican leaders. They say, "Do as we say, or you are OUT, assholes" to Republicans, and we need to to say the same to Democrats. You don't see the NRA kissing ass to Republicans the way we kiss ass to Democrats! Speaking of balls, the entire LGBT community needs to grow some. And buy some (free-range, cage-free) eggs while they're at it!

AndrewW said...

Ass-Kissing-Kors is so smitten with the "celebrity" of Nancy Pelosi.

The picture makes me sick to my stomach.