Friday, March 14, 2014

Did the DNC Chair Discouraged Support for ENDA Execurive Order?

If new allegations are true,, it looks like it's not only the powers that be in the Democratic Party of Virginia who are trying to alienate the LGBT vote in the lead up to the 2014 mid-term elections.  How else to explain claims that Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz discouraged U.S. House members from pressuring Barack Obama to sign an executive order to ban discrimination against LGBT employees.  Currently, in 29 states LGBT workers can be fired at will based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Having been fired for being gay myself, I know first hand just how devastating this experience can be both emotionally and financially.  As to why more LGBT activist haven't spoken out, one need only look at how Equality Virginia handled the controversy over anti-gay marriage DPVA chair Dwight Jones: hand wringing and little else out of fear of losing :access" and "burning bridges" even as LGBT Virginians were thrown under the bus. The Washington Blade looks at the controversy.  Here are excerpts:

A gay Democratic activist claims that Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) has discouraged House members from asking President Obama to take administrative action to protect LGBT workers, an assertion her office calls a “bald-faced lie.”

Paul Yandura, political director for gay philanthropist Jonathan Lewis, made the allegation when speaking with the Washington Blade from his home in West Virginia on Thursday regarding a 2013 missive that was circulated among House members by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Lois Capps (D-Calif.).

“I was told personally by two members that she was tamping down on public calls for the president to make good on his promise — this was last year when the issue was really getting hot,” Yandura said. “She is most likely doing the same still.”

Yandura’s allegation comes as lawmakers — led by the LGBT Equality Caucus and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) — are circulating a new missive among members of Congress calling on Obama to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT workplace discrimination.

Two sources familiar with the 2013 letter told the Washington Blade that Wasserman Schultz discouraged members of Congress from signing it, but Yandura was the only source willing to go on the record. The other source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wasserman Schultz, who represents Florida’s 23rd congressional district in the U.S. House, dissuaded Democrats from signing the letter in private conversations on the House floor.

“I’m sure she’ll come with something that sounds like a good excuse, but it’s about time,” Yandura said. “It’s time that she not only signs it, but tells people that they should publicly, and that it’s OK and that there’s no pressure not to sign it.”

Mara Sloan, a Wasserman Schultz spokesperson, disputed the allegations made by Yandura, saying any assertion that she discouraged members from signing the letter “is a bald-faced lie.”

“The congresswoman believes the most effective way to ensure equal rights for LGBT Americans in the workplace is through passing comprehensive non-discrimination legislation,” Sloan said. “The congresswoman regularly speaks to the administration about issues important to the LGBT community, and will continue to be a fierce advocate for full equality.”

Despite her record of support for the LGBT community, Wasserman Schultz has never explicitly called on Obama to sign an executive order barring LGBT discrimination among federal contractors. Asked about the issue in January by The Huffington Post, Wasserman Schultz said she supports the idea of Obama using his executive authority in “as broad a way as he can to ensure that we can move this country forward.”

Yandura said he thinks Wasserman Schultz refuses to express support for the executive order and has discouraged House members from speaking out in favor of it for political reasons.

“I think she doesn’t want to embarrass the president, and still doesn’t want to embarrass the president, because it is an embarrassment that he still hasn’t done it,” Yandura said. “We’re now coming down to the end of the second term, and if they don’t get moving on it, it’ll never even get implemented.”

Sadly, the take away for LGBT citizens is that we cannot take Democratic Party support for granted.  In the final analysis, all they want is our votes and our money and we need to constantly remind them that we attach conditions to both our monetary support and our votes.  The Dems cannot take our votes for granted.  Of course, if the GOP had any sense, it would kick the Christofascists to the curb and embrace the gays.  In close elections, the gay vote does make the difference.  Just ask Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring - although he seems to be quickly forgetting that reality notwithstanding his refusal to support Virginia's ban on gay marriage.

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