Saturday, October 20, 2007

Punishing Friends Over Equality That's Unequal

“In politics it is necessary either to betray one's country or the electorate. I prefer to betray the electorate.” — Charles De Gaulle, former French President from 1959-1969

DeGaulle’s quote above did provide a glimpse of the paradox of politics. It also shows what “friends” we have in Congress, and how far that really extends. They find the job of providing real solutions to pressing problems as too taxing. As the French President also quipped, “how can you govern a country that has 246 kinds of cheese?” It's an apt metaphor for what we're going through in Democratic politics at the moment.

So opting for the path of least resistance or the most self-expediency (preferably both) is always the easy choice. It’s also why we find America in the predicament we’re in today, with pressing problems of all stripe, and no one willing to do the task of solving them.

On the recent Employment Non Discrimination Act, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) put out a press blurb, which pointedly accused those in the GLBT community decrying lack of equality for all in the current legislation as exploiting "a chance to cry betrayal at your friends."

In the article from Boston’s Bay Windows, author Ethan Jacobs pulled this quote from ol’ Barn’: "I'm talking about an attitude that says we want this and we are indifferent to how to get it. We will demand that you give it to us, and if you don't give it to us we will punish our friends.”

We’re the one’s punishing our friends? By noticing and speaking up when we’re treated as unequal humans, when we’re considered not even good enough for the same protections that Barney and his community wish to enjoy, we’re “punishing them”? Interesting concept. And those who write legislation that betrays equal treatment, and who leaves other segments of the population out … why, that’s being friends!

After all, that’s what friends do, right?!?

So say, if in the future, the trans community wishes to get marriage rights, then we should remember how to be true “friends” and get ours first and let the gay and lesbian community get theirs in their own due time? Follow Barney Frank and HRC’s precedent? Why, the gay and lesbian community will understand, and certainly wouldn’t punish their friends for that, now would they? In fact, they wouldn’t even notice it – much less bring it up, right Barney?

Excuse me while I barf!

Whew … sorry … this whole country has gone so topsy-turvy, inside out and spun so tornadically out of control that I lost my lunch! Careful where you step! So let me shake the dizziness out of my head here: anyone who points out unequal treatment is a punisher! And only friends write laws where inequality is to be cherished! And this is coming from those arch-conservative … Democratic leaders?

And I suppose the bleeding heart liberal Republican groups like Concerned Women for America will agree with the majority of the GLBT groups and oppose Barney’s bill. Guess what!?! It’s true. Oh God, talk about strange bedfellows! [cue the Tubes’ “Don’t Touch Me There.”]

Furthermore, Barney Frank added that, “this is what’s troubling me about this burst of activity now: Where was the lobbying for transgender inclusion when in December Nancy Pelosi announced we were going to do it and we knew we had this fight?"

Well, I know why the the majority of organized trans members from around the country were not there "in December." It was right before the newly elected Congress was seated! Lots of folks were about to be out of office on the GOP side, and the new Dems weren't even there yet! Why would we travel all the way up to Capitol Hill then for what was certainly a lame duck Congress? Didn’t consider that, did ya Barn’?

As for why the organizations that reside in Washington were not there ... well, that’s not a question NTAC or any of the non-DC organizations can answer.

However, it is a good question -- where was HRC in their pre-abandonment, still-a-hero days? They always advertise being the largest “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization” in the nation. Of course, we all know about advertising and caveat emptor. Trans is so insignificant to HRC that we very easily get lost in the muddle – kinda like some beer-soaked, pot-bellied slob who isn’t aware of where his shih-tzu went until he peels himself off the couch to realize he’s been sitting on her the whole time.

For that matter, where was NGLTF in their newfound role of national lobbying group? They’ve always been very good with being vocal proponents of inclusive legislation – a perfect foil to HRC – throughout the past decade plus. They even have a transgender legal policy person on staff, Lisa Mottet, and Dave Noble as their newly-hired lobbyist. Why were they out of the loop?

More to the point, where was Mara Keisling? Her transgender organization’s been there for 4½ years now: more than enough time to get some roots and develop some contacts up on the Hill. In fact, she’s long-touted the great relationship she has with Rep. Barney Frank himself. It seemed incredulous, but this writer’s actually watched them interact friendly. They’re quite the couple. So much for being the Washington insider, huh? One wonders why NTCE wasn’t part of the good-friend-and-hero Barney Frank’s advocacy effort back in December?

Maybe Barney in his “still-a-hero” days decided to keep it secret from all the above organizations. If so, why be so clandestine? Perhaps ol’ Barn’ didn’t give a flying fig how much of a hero he was touted as in the Trans community. Maybe he really didn’t like Mara Keisling after all, and was simply being two-faced. Or maybe, some of the other groups on the Hill were aware in the early stages of this effort.

One slight problem: HRC seemed to be pretty on top of the game, and was johnny-on-the-spot even back in Feb. when they were lobbying offices. Both of my Hill staff contacts noted their “equivocating” approach to this inclusive legislation being conceived.

Fast forwarding to the current, they still remain johnny-on-the-spot and fully the insider with Barney and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, et. al. Say? Wasn’t Mara Keisling long advertising that we needed a transgendered “Washington insider?” Thus was the need to work “collaboratively” with HRC – to keep in those good graces.

One wonders what happened to HRC’s "collaboration" in kind with trans groups (or at least their trans-leader designee Mara Keisling)? After all of HRC and Mara’s tag-team efforts to build up their PR image to the trans community and beyond, and to lambaste the contrarians as negative naysayers, why would HRC do such a 180 now?

As the Queerty Blog recently opined, “HRC achieved [founder] Steve Endean’s ultimate goal: to become a powerful, politically active non-profit championing for gay rights. And, along the way, they fell into the old civil society trap. They’ve garnered unseen, unprecedented and unelected political power. They can use it as they wish, but only within the limits of preexisting institutions.

“HRC’s as big a part of the system as Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi.

“Joe Solmonese and HRC’s actions over the past few weeks have been politics. Pure and simple. Yes, we can criticize what we see as an immoral compromise, but the group’s ultimately impotent. There’s no way to severe [sic] the ties between HRC and its political allies [In Congress]”

Actually, I believe Queerty nailed it on the head. Politics is not the solution – it’s the problem. My God, did that come out of me? Was Ronald Reagan right (besides being far right)?

Well, there are political solutions for those with the money substantial enough to pay the piper. That’s why Gay & Lesbian rights are at the fore right now. They have the money and power and the media momentum going for them. They’re the next non-needy group to be endowed with officially-sanctioned protections they barely even recognize, much less need any more. That’s the way politics works: rights are for those who aren’t desperate for them.

Why do you think the wealthiest get the lion’s share of tax breaks, or no bid contracts, or other special considerations? They don’t need them. They just casually want them. That’s also why the working class and the impoverished will never have them – we’re in need of them. Nothing like pretzel logic, eh? Give to the wealthy -- keep the needy bereft.

But cheer up you cash-poor, under and unemployed trannies! Since you’re not desperate for them, you’ll be the first to be extended marriage rights! That’s how politics works. Caveat emptor!

Political solutions are officially dead. Time to do the funeral procession, plant the corpse and then move on ….

“Me, I'm a part of your circle of friends
and We notice you don't come around
Me, I think it all depends
on You touching ground with us.
But, I quit.
I give up.
Nothing's good enough for anybody else …
It seems.” — Circle, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians

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