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Democrats Don't Have the Right to Laugh at Rand Paul

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Are we all having fun, Democrats and liberals and assorted leftists? That Rand Paul, what a conservative idiot! Can you believe that he doesn't think the federal government should prohibit discrimination? That's so silly, so racist, so... extreme.

Meanwhile, here's what your party is not doing in Congress:

Representative Barney Frank said in MetroWeekly late yesterday that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be delayed until late June or mid-July.

A little while ago we LGBT people were told it would happen by the end of April. Before that it was right after spring recess, April 9. Before we were told "no later than February," but possibly in December. And before that we were outraged (according to HRC, an LGBT lobbying group) that it didn't happen in 2009. And we were.

Now we're down to the wire, and, according to the best ENDA blogger out there, Jillian Weiss, it'll be canned until at least 2011:

Despite Speaker Pelosi's stated commitment to having a vote on ENDA later in 2010, it is unclear how realistic that is.

It is also unclear whether that leaves any room for passage of the bill by the Senate. Congress is on recess in August. A July House vote would leave no time for Senate action before the midterm election season in September. The Senate is unlikely to take up ENDA during midterm elections because members are busy campaigning. They also are unlikely to want to vote on anything controversial unless it adds to the immediate bottom line in terms of constituent votes. ENDA would not add to the immediate bottom line in terms of constituent votes.

After the election, a "lame duck" Senate is even less likely to take up the bill, as very little of import usually gets done during the elections and the end of the session in December. At the end of the session, all pending legislation is voided.

A new ENDA bill could be introduced in 2011.

Thus, it now looks like a vote in the House, if takes place, would be purely symbolic, with no real chance of passage into law in this Congressional session.

I agree with Jillian -- it likely won't happen this year. And since Sec. of Defense Gates said he wants to study the issue, and survey the opinions of 350,000 soldiers and their families on gays in the military, and the House doesn't want to move if the Senate doesn't, and the Senate doesn't, it's looking like Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal won't happen this year either (Rep. Skelton said exactly that this week).

Sen. Franken introduced a bill to protect LGBT students from bullying in the Senate, but I don't have much hope considering how Democrats are great at introducing these bills and lousy at passing them. The bill to provide domestic partner benefits to federal employees in same-sex relationships is lingering in the House. Rep. Sánchez introduced a bill to end Social Security discrimination against same-sex couples, but that went nowhere fast. Sen Boxer introduced another to let same-sex couples access COBRA, a modest but fair measure, but we haven't heard a peep about that since. And LGBT-specific health care reforms were almost completely cut out of health care reform to get it passed, without any outcry from Democrats (did you know domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples are taxed while family health care for straight, married couples isn't?).

Look, I don't want a pony. I know that posting any criticism from the left of the Democrats right now gets the inevitable cries of "You want a pony!" from loyal Democrats, the sort who put party before principle, but that doesn't apply here. What I want is to know that I can't get fired just for being myself. I already lost one job for that reason and I learned not to be out at work if I cared about keeping a job, a lesson lots of gay and lesbian and gender-nonconforming people of all stripes have learned at some point.

Keep it down. Don't talk about your boyfriend. Don't mention the girl you went out with this weekend, just tell people you stayed home and watched movies. Make your voice sound a little more masculine. Try looking a little more girly. Stop waving your hands around. Maybe you could just wear a skirt and show some leg? No one here seems to know anything about you - wanna hang out after work and talk about chicks? Why don't you ever talk about the girls you've fucked? When can we meet your husband?

89% of people in the US support job protections for LGB people, and most support them for transgender people. Even states like Utah and North Carolina have solid majorities for these protections, which, if Republicans acted like Democrats, would give a great excuse to Orrin Hatch and Richard Burr.

Heck, lots of straight people I talk to think it's already illegal to fire someone for being gay in the US. It isn't, not in 29 states.

That's not a pony -- that's a low-hanging fruit for Democrats that they've refused to go after. And I know lots of gay people who won't be going to the polls this time because of the sheer lack of progress on these issues, especially ENDA. A friend of mine who supported Obama fervently in 2008 told me, "Why should we care about their job security if they don't care about ours?" Another friend, who doesn't follow politics all that closely, said, "I've been saying it all along, just wait until they get in office. Democrats and Republicans are the same." It's what she said before the election, and I'm looking sillier every day. A few more think going third party is the right way to go (don't worry, I roll my eyes there too).

You can tell me here that the Republicans are worse, but most people aren't going to read that. What could have made a difference -- a difference noticed by most of the LGBT population -- is actual progress, something to show that the Democrats actually tried to pass something beneficial. ENDA would have been easy. Just what is holding Congress back? It isn't public opinion -- could it be the personal opinions of members of Congress? Is there some sort of Bradley Effect at play, where they tell us publicly that they support gay rights because they don't want to get treated like Rand Paul but privately think that we're just icky? I'm really out of ideas here, and it's not like anyone's telling us why it isn't moving forward. We've just been hearing stall tactics.

So my question for you: if Rand Paul's opposition to the Civil Rights Act is so bizarre, so far to the right it's only worthy of derision, then what are the Congressional Democrats when it comes to ENDA? Is firing someone because they're gay acceptable to Democrats now?

It's fun to make fun of someone on the other team for being racist and stupid. It's not as much fun to ask why our team is acting homophobic and stupid. And I'm really not seeing how the party that refuses to pass ENDA, which is much weaker than the Civil Rights Act anyway, can laugh at Rand Paul right now. In fact, it's simply infuriating to see a group of people so arrogant about something they're not particularly good at.

And if enough gays get tired of being told to wait and just don't show up at the polls (straight America, you might not know this, but the gays are getting really restless right now and few are Democrats first and gay second) and Democrats lose seats because of it, the CW will be that Americans were too tired of all the Socialism of these past two years and Democrats will move further to the right. It's really no win for us.