April 5, 2013
It’s as obvious as it is pathetic.
The continuous marriage bandwagon-jumping of Senators hungry for Gay Inc. campaign cash demonstrates once again that when push comes to shove, what these people really care about doesn’t have anything to do with what’s right, fair, and best for LGBT Americans. As usual, it’s still all about who’s got the deepest pockets and who’s going to be most likely to write those nice, fat, campaign donation checks.
How can I make this claim? It’s easy. How many of these Senators who have just declared their support for same-sex marriage over the last few weeks have also come out in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect the jobs and incomes of the families these politicians now say should be allowed to be formed? Not many, not even if you include those who were already on record as supporting ENDA, such Republican Illinois Senator Mark Kirk. It’s money-motivated hypocrisy of the first order. What’s more, everyone knows it’s hypocrisy and no one seems to care. As is the standard operating procedure in Washington these days on both sides of the aisle, once dollar signs shine in a politician’s eyes, everything and everyone else falls by the wayside.
Of course, we can’t completely blame these Senators for their craven politics. The bar was already set this low by the Hypocrite-In-Chief, President Barack Obama, who campaigned on protecting LGBT workers from discrimination, but since becoming President has refused to do even so little to support American LGBT working families as sign an executive order to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors.
President Obama’s throwing the rights of hardworking LGBT Americans under the bus in favor of pandering to the minority groups most valuable to the Democratic Party in terms of votes and campaign donations for the entirety of his presidency has sent a clear message to Capitol Hill that it’s perfectly fine to ignore the interests of the working class when there’s a substantial profit to be made in money and support from wealthier and more politically potent groups. When you have a President who will eagerly sign an executive order to protect the right of undocumented workers to work in the United States but refuses to sign one to protect the right of American citizens to do the same, it’s really the only credible conclusion you can draw.
While Obama does bear a fair share of the blame here, we can’t put it all on him either. It’s not like either mainstream or LGBT media has been stepping up either. While Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner has at least written about the problem, I have yet to read or hear of even a single case of one of these newly-converted Senators being asked their position on ENDA or on LGBT workplace rights in general by any of these journalists. Once a Senator’s new-found support for same-sex marriage is revealed, it seems no one in commercial news media believes that their position on our right to work and to provide for those same-sex families they now support legally creating is also worth asking about.
Oh but wait, you say, didn’t 37 Democratic Senators and 110 Democrats in the House just sign letters to President Obama asking him to sign that executive order? Yes, they did, but that’s easy, just as easy as coming out in a support of a controversial issue that’s popular with your base but you know you’re never going to have to actually vote on like same-sex marriage.
Senators are comfortable supporting same-sex marriage because they’re expecting the Supreme Court to take the heat on the issue regardless of their ruling, just as Congressional Democrats are hoping Obama will take the heat off them coming from the left on LGBT employment rights by signing the executive order. As is always the case with President Obama and Democrats in Congress, they’ve got no problem talking about protecting persecuted minorities from discrimination, it’s actually showing some leadership and doing something about it that makes a difference in people’s lives where they still consistently fail us.
Back in February, we heard Senator Tom Harken say that he intended to move ENDA this year. We’ve also heard that the bill is being tweaked and reviewed in preparation for introduction in the House later this month, even though no one really expects it to pass there.
In the end, what we’re seeing now is almost certainly nothing more than a show, political theater, an essentially meaningless display which might have actually meant something if Democrats hadn’t betrayed their promises to LGBT working families during the 111th Congress, when they failed to bring the bill up for a vote in either Democratically-controlled house that session despite a multitude of promises from Congressional Democratic leaders that they would pass it into law if they gained the majorities they said they needed and in fact achieved as a result of the 2008 election.
President Obama could have significant impact on the lives of more than 1 in 5 LGBT American workers by signing that executive order, but he won’t. Democrats in Congress could have improved the lives of LGBT American working families in the 111th Congress, but they willingly gave up that chance in order to focus on the issues of the wealthy and well-connected and so now they can’t. The journalists and media institutions we depend on to keep these people honest can’t even be bothered to ask the right questions.
Working class LGBT Americans and the families that depend on us would be well-advised to hunker down and prepare for the worst. It’s a long, hard, and rough road ahead of us, and it doesn’t seem likely to get better anytime soon.