Protestors demonstrates against the Human Rights Campaign in 2007 over support for a gay-only ENDA
(Washington Blade file photo by Henry Linser)
Ten years ago, a firestorm ignited in the LGBT community over a vote in the U.S. House that many transgender people remember vividly because it excluded them in favor of advancing employment non-discrimination protections to lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
The vote on the “gay-only” version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on Nov. 7, 2007, rocked the LGBT movement and prompted protests against the Human Rights Campaign and gay former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who backed the bill, arguing it was the best that could be done at the time. The 10th anniversary of the vote is Tuesday.
But the omission galvanized transgender rights advocates to such an extent that for the next 10 years the LGBT movement committed to moving forward only legislation that included the full community — both at the state and federal level — and today advancement of a sexual-orientation only bill is impossible to imagine.
Dana Beyer, a Chevy Chase, Md.-based transgender activist who’s running for state Senate in Maryland, said the vote on the gay-only version of ENDA was “a landmark” for trans inclusion in the LGBT movement.
“Whenever I discuss the progress that we’ve made, which has been remarkable, I began there because that was basically the first real battle for the trans community on the national stage and over the succeeding decade, we’ve made incredible progress,” Beyer said.
Beyer added from that time forward after the creation of United ENDA — an unprecedented coalition of more than 400 organizations that emerged to fight against trans exclusion —there have been with few exceptions “no instances of any gay activism of legislation that did not include trans people.”
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