They're Here, They're Queer & No One's Used To It

Illustration for article titled They're Here, They're Queer & No One's Used To It

As anyone who is gay probably already knows, there are no federal protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, which is a bad thing. No one is really allowed to (or is going to) fire me because I'm a relatively promiscuous heterosexual on my own time (unless I'm actually slutting it up at the office), so it's both unfair and morally wrong that they could fire anyone else for being a monogamous or promiscuous heterosexual on their own time. And now that we have a Democratic Congress in power, they are going to use that power to change that for the better, right? Or not, as you'll learn after the jump.

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So, Congressman Barney Frank, the only openly gay Congressman, introduced a bill to provide protection for our gay, lesbian and bisexual friends against discrimination in the workplace. Yay! However, according to Roll Call, he had to take out provisions that would have provided equal protections to our transgendered friends to try to get enough votes to pass the rest of the bill. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (the only openly lesbian Congresswoman) has announced that she plans on introducing an amendment to restore the transgender provisions, and so Speaker Pelosi has put off passing anything until Baldwin and the transgender community can prove they have enough votes to pass their amendment, which they don't and probably won't, so gay rights in the workplace will have to wait a bit longer so that some Democrats can prove to other ones that America isn't ready to be fair to transgendered people, too.

Meanwhile, the bill exempts religious organizations and the Armed Forced (naturally), there's no indication it could pass the Senate, President Bush has vowed to veto it because he says it messes with states rights to discriminate against teh gays (and because the veto pen is his new favorite toy), and your boss remains able to fire you because he thinks it's gross/creepy/against God's will if you love a person of the same gender or engage in certain kinds of sex acts on your own time. Oh, and if you're an MIT- and Harvard- educated neurobiologist at Stanford doing groundbreaking research, well, according to one GOP leadership aide, you'd best be thankful that you live in the Bay Area because the rest of "us" don't think you should have "special" rights.

Gay Rights Bill Stalls in House [Roll Call]
Transgender prof defends women scientists [MSNBC]

DISCUSSION

jlina-old
jlina

The trans protections are currently being used as a bullshit wedge issue to give Democrats an excuse to let the community kill the bill, as opposed to them having to kill the bill on their own. I mean, here's the math:

The bill is going to squeak by the House either way. It's dead in the Senate, EITHER WAY. If it were to even get past the Senate, it would be vetoed and they definitely don't have the votes to surpass this.

That having been said, Queer folk have been pushing Employment Protections (rightly so) for years now, and finally that Democrats are back in power they have to somewhat assuage this constituency. Because having big queer donors canned for the queer is bad for cash flow, right? But they also have a ton of freshman congressmen that don't need this exposure in their home towns, particularly when they know even if the bill passes the House it's DOA everywhere else.

So what do they do? They looked at the statements HRC et al. had made, particularly regarding trans protections. After so many times that the HRC sold out trans people, they finally made a stand against precisely this type of compromise that cuts out members of the community. Knowing it would provoke a backlash in the community, and HRC wouldn't support it, Barney and Nancy decided to force HRC to kill the bill.

Of course, HRC is weak, doing anything for access. So they waffled, didn't kill their support immediately, and Barney and Nancy are back in square one, cause the bill might be passed anyway, despite all the other orgs proclaiming it to be an unfair compromise, like they had planned. The Baldwin amendment might save the day, putting trans protections back in so that if a vote for show happens, it may as well fully represent our community.

Either way, of course, trans people are taking the fall within the queer community. And that's the trans division subtext to this bill.

The part that sucks, of course, is that the unemployment rate for trans women clearly overshadows the unemployment rates for queers of all other stripes, but since when was Congress about protecting those people who need it, huh?