Friday, 9 November 2012

On Tammy Baldwin And ENDA

Tammy Baldwin was one of 184 cosponsors of H.R. 2015, the trans-inclusive version of ENDA which was put before Congress in 2007. Unfortunately, Barney Frank — the bill’s originating sponsor — unilaterally withdrew H.R. 2015 from consideration and replaced it with H.R. 3685, a “gays only” version of ENDA. Frank argued that cutting trans rights out of ENDA was politically necessary because trans rights were an extremist position which would endanger moderate Democrats in swing states, whereas gay rights were “politically realistic”.

Tammy Baldwin not only refused to cosponsor H.R. 3685, but threw Frank’s betrayal of trans people in his face by introducing an amendment which would have reintroduced trans rights to ENDA while it was on the House floor, effectively reversing Frank’s replacement of H.R. 2015 with H.R. 3685. Barney Frank killed Baldwin’s amendment by cashing in favors with Democratic Party leaders, who told Baldwin that they would only let her introduce the floor amendment if she agreed to withdraw it before an actual vote was called. This way she would get ten minutes of floor debate time to make a public case for trans rights, but they would not under any circumstances permit a vote on the amendment.

It is neither accurate nor fair to call Tammy Baldwin a transphobe for not being powerful enough to single-handedly secure trans inclusion in ENDA against the entire fucking establishment of the Democratic Party. She stuck her neck way, way out to go to bat for trans people over ENDA, and that was an extremely courageous thing to do considering that she was a relative nobody in Congress explicitly going toe-to-toe with one of the most powerful men in Washington.

Edit: Here’s more details, including direct citations, for those who insist on “skepticism”. Funny how none of those people were “skeptical” of badmouthing a woman in the first place…

This is the THOMAS page for H.R. 2015, the trans-inclusive version of ENDA with 178 cosponsors including Tammy Baldwin. If you look at the dates in the cosponsor list, you’ll notice that Baldwin is one of the “plank owner” cosponsors; her date of cosponsorship is 4/24/2007, the same day the bill was introduced.

This is the THOMAS page for H.R. 3685, the “gays only” version of ENDA with just 9 cosponsors not including Tammy Baldwin. If you look under the “Amendments” link on H.R. 3685, there are three amendments listed H.AMDT.884 (A003) is Tammy Baldwin’s amendment reintroducing trans rights to the bill. As you can see from the Status notes on that page, the Baldwin amendment was withdrawn without a vote precisely eleven minutes after it was introduced for consideration on the House floor.

If you’re unfamiliar with the formal procedures of the House of Representatives, there’s something called the Five-Minute Rule: when the House is meeting as the Committee of the Whole (i.e. the entire House as opposed to a single subcommittee), debate on any new floor amendment is automatically limited to ten minutes: five minutes by the proponent of the amendment, and five minutes by an opponent of the amendment. In practice, this rule can be sidestepped by other Congresspeople proposing nominal amendments to the amendment — the usual phrasing is “striking the last word” or “striking the requisite number of words” — and then yielding (i.e. officially transferring) the five minutes that their nominal amendment entitles them to over to the original proponent. Alternatively, the speaker’s five minutes can be extended by unanimous consent. Both of these extending maneuvers require support from the party leadership, and Tammy Baldwin didn’t have it.

The absolute most Baldwin could have done beyond what she actually did would have been to refuse to withdraw the bill and demand a formal vote on it, which would have been a futile gesture, and would have basically gotten her locked out by her own party in all future discussions. She was already going against the party line set by Barney in bringing the amendment at all, and without backup from other Congresspeople she was swinging in the wind.

Source: Freedom In Wickedness