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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 16, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 46
Magic time in D.C.
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Magic time in D.C.

Let's not miss our best opportunity to pass ENDA

by Mark Segal - Philadelphia Gay News

It's 'magic season' in Washington, D.C., but most of our LGBT media, bloggers, and lobbyists (such as the Human Rights Campaign) are not feeling that magic. Most are tripping over themselves to tell the Obama administration what they believe should be the LGBT priorities for the president's second term. All their suggestions are worthy, but they're all missing the real Washington magic.

Let's take a cue from the Latino community. It's the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue we should be focusing on - the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Latino lobbyists understand the game: They have a focus and have made it simple for legislators to understand. For them, it's the DREAM Act. For us, it should be the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Magic time in D.C. happens rarely. It comes every four to eight years and only when there is a true shift in popular sentiment that forces one of the major political parties to look inward and try to find their deficiencies. The season usually runs from Election Night to the end of the current congressional term, since the congressional leadership can count on the majority of outgoing members for their votes in trade for future assistance, and on current members looking for plum positions in the new Congress.

OUR TOP PRIORITY NOW
ENDA is the only major item on our priority list that is not yet accomplished (or at least well on the way to being accomplished). It's important, since most LGBT Americans are still not protected in employment. Military servicemembers are, and if you work for the U.S. government you are. To our lobbyists in D.C., isn't it time to use our political capital for the rest of the people?

First, ENDA must pass both the House and Senate, and then be signed by the president - whose support we already have. We know we also have the support of the Democratic leadership and the overwhelming majority of Democrats in the House and Senate. OK, here comes the problem, and a suggestion.

The holdup will be in the House of Representatives, whose speaker, Rep. John Boehner, controls all. If he wishes, legislation will make it to the floor and to a vote. He does not necessarily have to have his name on the legislation. The point is, he has the Republican votes and the political pull to get ENDA through the House. And as magic season has it, he's very much aware of not only the future of the Republican Party in the House, but of those around him who want his job. That, my friends, spells opportunity. Choose your partner and dance. Anyone in for a foxtrot with Congressman Cantor?

CRUNCH TIME FOR GOP GAYS
It's time for our friends at GOProud and Log Cabin and people like Ken Mehlman to prove themselves. They should either, on their own or with a coalition of organizations, focus like a laser beam on ENDA and Boehner. If you guys don't have the access, then it's time for you to stand your ground, as Latinos have done with the DREAM Act. Ken, raising money for marriage equality will not wash the blood off your hands, but standing in front of the Capitol at a news conference fighting for ENDA will definitely start you on that path.

Here's the rub: We have about four weeks left of this Congress. Think that is not enough time? Remember the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'? That's all it took, just two years ago.

Mark Segal is the award-winning publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

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