Senate Historical Office offers a Civil Rights Proponents’ Strategy For Success
By Cathy Kristofferson, May 28, 2014
Today the United States Senate Historical Office gave a presentation “Civil Rights Act at 50: Civil Rights’ Proponents Strategy For Success”. This seemed a good lesson the LGBT community needs to learn as we fight discrimination, religious bigotry, and our own “entrenched and dedicated opposition.” We are hoping one day to celebrate our own “at 50” moment say ‘Stonewall At 50’ in 5 years. Sadly, we already know one history lesson our well-funded proponents Chad Griffin and Rae Carey have NOT learned is how to say ‘No’ to those who will exempt and compromise away subsets of our community.
Last June, when the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA) was introduced, Julian Bond – President emeritus of the NAACP and veteran of the successful campaign for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – came out strongly, in a Politico op-ed, urging the LGBT community not to give in to the powers of religious bigotry in the same way as the civil rights movement has refused to do in 1964.
ENDA 2013 is flawed in that not only was it introduced with broad religious exemptions allowing any “religiously affiliated” employer to legally discriminate against any employee, but it was amended to ensure that those employers who legally discriminate cannot be “punished” by the Federal Government withholding federal grant or contract funds or the like through the Ayotte/Portman Amendment passed unanimously on a voice vote.
But that history lesson Julian Bond highlighted has gone unheeded to this very day as both the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) continue to campaign and fund raise on passage of the flawed ENDA.
Today’s fundraising email from “Rea Carey, The Task Force” boldly lists passing ENDA as job #1:
“Your 2014 Pride Fund contribution will help the Task Force:
– Pass ENDA in the House by pressuring John Boehner to listen to the will of the people — and even some members of his own party — and bring this crucial bill to a vote.”
And humorously, yesterday HRC sent a letter to the Vatican – their latest publicity stunt – decrying the firings of Catholic teachers. You have to wonder if they have even read the ENDA bill they are pushing because it makes the sort of employment discrimination their letter is about perfectly legal.
The LGBT community needs a “strategy for success” along with fresh leadership for its implementation, because current proponents are clearly “those who fail to learn from history.” It seems they would rather repeat history that gain full un-qualified equality for the community – clearly doomed to failure. Let’s hope in the short term they do indeed fail to pass ENDA through John Boehner’s House, as that would be criminal.
And let’s not look to the White House for our equality either. As reported yesterday, President Obama doesn’t want to MAKE HISTORY, he and his Department of the Interior just want to study it. Anything to continue reneging on the Federal Contractor Executive Order promised in 2008. How hard can it be to lift that pen, President Obama?
Though the Senate Historian was initially amused***, as were many in today’s audience, as we distributed our “Stonewall at 50” flyer backed by Queer Nation’s #ENDAisNOTEqual, we hope as they reflect upon it further they will realize how none of this is humorous. The dream in our spoof – a passed LGBT full equality bill – is obviously in jeopardy of becoming a reality. There is no plan or benchmark nor rumblings of any to pass a landmark LGBT equality bill as comprehensive and unqualified as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(***Once the Senate Historical Office stopped smiling, they sent an email asking us not to distribute our flyer that purports to be from their office as they need to maintain non-partisan objectivity and credibility.)