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The ENDA End Game

Barry Winchell, the martyr of the movement to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, was beaten to death in his sleep with a baseball bat at Ft. Campbell in 1999 because his killers thought he was "a faggot."  Official quick-march cadence calls during daily exercise drills at the time indoctrinated running recruits to believe that it was OK to "kill faggots."  But PFC Winchell wasn't gay; he was in love with a transgender woman.  What he was didn't matter; it was their prejudiced perception that provoked the murder.  It is that constant danger of being fired from our jobs or even being murdered, because of who people might think we are, that makes us all one and the same victims of hate.  On June 26th, 1963, President John F. Kennedy told the besieged citizens of Berlin, "Ich bin ein Berliner" (in the infamous interpreter's error, in the local dialect, he'd said, "I am a jelly doughnut."  But, everyone understood what he meant), that is, "I am one with you."  It is no joke to be discriminated against by being fired from your job or being killed because some ignorant asshole thinks that you're some kind of "queer."  It is for that reason that over 300 LGBT and other civil rights organizations, nationally, have insisted that the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) must be fully inclusive of protection for Transgender Americans.  We cannot any longer allow selective discrimination to continue nor permit it by omission in legislation.

In the works for years, ENDA has been in committee, for the preceding few weeks, in preparation for a full vote in the US House of Representatives.  As originally written, the bill was fairly comprehensive in providing federal protection in employment for LGBT Americans.  Then pragmatists decided that the only chance of passage would require the removal of rights, in the bill, for Transgender Americans.  We must not forget that everyone involved means well.  Among the legislators and advocates engaged in the struggle for our equal rights and freedom, there are differing views on whether incremental progress or solidarity on full inclusion should be the priority.  To read the policy statements, regarding ENDA, of two leading veterans organizations engaged in the advocacy of the rights of LGBT servicemembers and veterans, click on the link below.

American Veterans for Equal Rights, Transgender American Veterans Association

  2007  Gay Military Signal