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Monday, October 15, 2007

"There were sufficient votes three weeks ago"

A comment has been left on the preceding post by "anonymous" that either is or purports to be a direct communication from Mara Keisling of NCTE. (I have confirmed the original source: T-Equality Blog, to which Mara is a contributor.) Whether or not this is so, it certainly sounds like what she would say under the current circumstances, and as it agrees with my own take on events, I'm taking the liberty to re-post it here with the assumption that it came from a good-faith source:
Obviously, I should probably share my take on what most of you have probably heard happened yesterday. In general, we rarely talk about specific things said at specific meetings by specific people. I'll adhere to that guideline here as well, but since so many others have talked about the meeting including at least one organization that began making media calls before the meeting actually occurred, I will give you my straight take on what it all means.

Nothing new happened in terms of which ENDA bill will be running.

For the last couple of weeks, we have been told that our allies in Congress were 1) intending to have a vote on the non-inclusive bill (H.R. 3685) that no one wants and no one thinks will become law, while 2) the inclusive bill (H.R. 2015) might someday get a vote if we could prove we have the votes. The offer made yesterday and apparently brokered by HRC (according to them) without input or knowledge from NCTE or any other LGBT organization is exactly the same: our allies in Congress are 1) intending to have a vote on the non-inclusive bill (H.R. 3685) that no one wants and no one thinks will become law, while 2) the inclusive bill (H.R. 2015) might someday get a vote if we can prove we have the votes. Sounds the same, doesn't it? If you feel confused, it's because there hasn't been a "new deal" put on the table. It has though apparently been officially brokered and announced by HRC this time.

HRC's "new deal" is entirely spin meant to undermine the unprecedented grassroots efforts of hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals in order to allow movement of their vanity bill that no one including Speaker Pelosi or Congressman Frank says they really want. Even HRC claims they don't want it even though they support it. Of course House leadership says they will hold a vote when there are sufficient votes, but it is our position (and the position of actual members of Congress) that there were sufficient votes three weeks ago. Yet the bill was pulled from consideration then and we have been promised that no vote will be held-that's what started this crisis. We have had and we do have the votes to pass H.R. 2015 and ask for a vote on this unified bill now.

We sincerely appreciate the work that the Speaker has put into advancing all LGBT rights and we acknowledge and treasure her commitment to seeing this through until the passage of rights for all of us. But we strongly disagree with and oppose this strategy. We oppose H.R. 3685 and believe taking Committee action on this bad bill is extremely harmful to our collective effort to win civil rights for all LGBT people.

NCTE is willing to hold double secret negotiations also to get this point across if that will help.

Mara Keisling
Executive Director
National Center for Transgender Equality


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