But how will it play in Peoria?

I’m not commenting on this piece of Legislation one way or another. However, to the extent that (1) it involves a big fight between the Democrats and one of their strongest constituencies, (2) the constituency represents only a small fraction of Americans overall, and (3) that the fight is over an even smaller subset of the constituency, a subset that most people find uncomfortable, I do wonder what political ground the Democrats gain with this fight:

Leading gay rights organizations, with the pointed exception of the Human Rights Campaign, withdrew their support Monday from a landmark gay civil rights bill after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., pulled transgender people from the legislation that would protect gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination.

The intense backlash by the gay community surprised House Democratic leaders, forcing them to postpone what had been intended as a big House vote this week to include gays and lesbians in the nation’s job discrimination laws for the first time in American history.

The debate playing out between gay rights activists and two of their biggest supporters in Congress raises a classic political question: Are activists better off compromising and accepting progress or continuing to fight for everything they want?

Gay rights groups have been waiting for a decade for the bill to pass, and many say a few more months to try to build support for including gender identity would be worth the wait. They say transgender people will have little chance of winning protection from discrimination if they aren’t included in this bill.

Pelosi and Frank, however, fear the inclusion of gender identity will kill the overall bill – again denying gays and lesbians protection against job discrimination.

Pelosi, D-San Francisco, issued conflicting statements Monday in reaction to the turmoil. The first declared her personal support for including transgender people in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act but asserted she would stick by her decision to drop them from the bill to give it a greater chance of passage.

About three hours later, the speaker issued a new statement saying, “After discussions with congressional leaders and organizations supporting passage” of the bill, committee and floor votes on the bill had been postponed to “allow proponents of the legislation to continue their discussions with members in the interest of passing the broadest possible bill.”

The new statement was signed by Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., the only openly lesbian member of Congress (Frank is the only openly gay member), who had withheld her endorsement from the bill after the decision to drop transgender people.

The statement also was signed by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who heads the committee that will oversee the bill. The committee’s vote on the jobs discrimination bill had been scheduled for today but was postponed until the week of Oct. 15.

Read the rest here. Don’t feel obligated to comment on the bill’s substance please. I really am most interested in the political ramifications. I strikes me that, if you’re like the Democrats and don’t have strong central principles, but instead play off to varying special interest groups, you’re going to start fraying rapidly around the edges, and thin at the center.

UPDATE:  Incidentally, for those really concerned about Gay rights, here is a good place to start.

7 Responses

  1. Why is forcing by law that an employer must base decisions about hiring and firing (as well as other work place decisions) on how someone has sex called gay rights? This coersion should be called by what it really is – gay special rights. Right?

  2. If you really wanted to mess with Democrat politicians’ heads, get some Muslim leader to condemn the legislation. The Dem leaders would be spinning in circles, waving their arms, while sparks and smoke shoot out of their ears.

  3. […] [Discuss this article with Bookworm over at Bookworm Room…] Share Article Democrats, Democrats, gay, Pelosi, Tammy Baldwin, George Miller    Sphere: Related Content | Trackback URL […]

  4. How does someone know – in a job interview – that the applicant is gay? And if you _don’t_ know, how could you discriminate? So…wouldn’t this require that the applicant identify him/herself as gay in order for this to apply?

  5. Many many years ago a high school friend of mine, who since died of AIDS, applied for a job as attorney for the city of San Francisco and told me he had to make an effort to prove he was gay, because he had information the city intended to hire a gay attorney but could not actually announce this was the goal. The resulting interview was rather awkward, until my friend hit upon the idea of complimenting the drapes and decor in the interviewer’s office, in order to telegraph that yes, he had the gay bona fides.

  6. Z, you’ve just described the reductio ad absurdum of identity politics. I’m sorry about your friend’s death, by the way. He sounds like a guy with a great sense of humor and a hard headed streak of common sense.

  7. There’s no hope for me, since I have ZERO capability with home decor. I can’t choose drapes nor serve canapes. My home lacks proper decor and I lack proper decorum. If I had to choose between affection and sex, I’d choose affection. Though I’d rather have both, I’ve lived the life of a monk for years and years because I demand genuine affection and love with sex. I hear gays are criticized for averaging hundreds of sex partners per year, and for group sex and for anonymous sex, especially in parks and bathrooms. So then, am I gay then or not? Who could tell?

    Every time you put referendums in front of the people that favor gay rights, the referendums are voted down. If you want to win rights, win them there. Don’t allow tyrannical judges to rule you instead, not for any reason, because the tyrant that favors you today will be replaced by the tyrant that favors your opponent tomorrow. That’s a recipe that leads to bombs and terrorism rather than mutual individual respect.

    So, dear Democrats, don’t agonize over whether to transgenderize or not to transgenderize. Put it to a referendum, put it to the people; and see what the people REALLY think!

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