Dr. Jillian Weiss is someone I admire greatly. I've been in touch with her for months, trying my best to contribute to the passage of the Employment Non Discrimination Act on the federal level. I was part of the ground troops getting commitments from our local electeds and I've written about it quite a bit.
So it is sad to realize that it won't happen. Coming on the heels of the Dyke and Trans March, two groups disproportionately impacted be economic issues, its particularly disheartening. Jillian has some insight as to what has gone so wrong.
Gay Inc. made a decision in the early 2000's to move away from targeting traditional civil rights movement discrimination, and concentrate almost exclusively on marriage equality via the “good as you” theme. I believe the thinking was that the campaign for marriage equality would drag the rest along in its wake.
That agenda came from our advocacy leaders, who live in an environment insulated from most LGBT people in terms of economics, education and culture. But most LGBT people are also not necessarily prepared to do such analysis in understanding why their advocacy leaders would push them into marriage equality as the number one issue.
Discrimination was moved way down the list in the hierarchy. It was never abandoned, but it limped along.
Marriage equality as a lead issue has proved largely a bust, having been stripped away from Americans in 31 states, in every single state in which it has been placed on the ballot. It has been quietly rotated out for a while, while we lick our wounds and regroup. But the philosophy behind it, the “good as you” philosophy, has not changed.
ENDA, and other non-discrimination measures do not fit with the world-view of “good as you.” It requires making the argument that we are victims of oppression, and require liberation, something which I think most gay leaders do not feel.
You really need to read the whole thing to grasp the magnitude of the analysis. It reminds me of Senator Daylin Leach's decision to move ahead with marriage legislation when a group of us practically begged him to take up the Senate version of HB 300. He was not interested because his people out east thought marriage was the better issue. That was just sad.
Gay Inc has taken some hits, especially from the grassroots groups across the nation. Where Pittsburgh falls in this regard is open to debate. A lot of power and influence is vested in a few hands, but I don't see the grassroots folks agitating for access. The divide is wide. That leaves a lot of room for continued misunderstanding and failure to coalesce.
I strongly encourage you to read Jillian's piece. We need to wrestle with these issues locally. And if the House does take action, we need to pay close attention to Jason Altmire.