Congress, as of this writing, has a 16% approval rate. They anger us at every turn, whether it be not allowing a bill to go for a vote, not voting on a nominee from the president, or party-line votes. Of course, I could also mention their infuriating rules of order and decorum that piss us off even more. I want to talk about something else that Congress does not generally do: attack social issues.
Congress seems like that old-maid aunt you have that has never been laid and is terrified of saying the word “sex”, let alone something more. I can’t think of one LGBT civil rights issue that Congress has positively affected. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and of 1968, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 are all seminal social laws. One that tamped down social justice was the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. It was a horrible law that ended up being unconstitutional.
The Human Rights Campaign reminds us that today is a historic day because the Supreme Court ruled in our favor over marriage. It was a sweet victory, albeit bitter. What we really need is to have is an Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed. It would be a very simple bill. All it has to do is add LGBT to the protected classes stipulated in the Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Act. In most of the country, I can be fired tomorrow because I’m gay. I can get married, but if I display my partner’s photo at work, I could get canned. That makes a lot of sense, huh?
The effort has been underway in my state, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the better part of a decade. We finally got ab ENDA bill to go up for a vote this month. The tactic taken for many years was to bring the bill to a vote, then leave off the so-called religious exemption. As much as I don’t like it, Republicans won’t vote for the bill unless religious institutions are exempted. So, they chip that part off of the bill in order to kill it. The current PA bill does not include transgender individuals, BUT we should support it because something is better than nothing!!!
Up on the hill, the battle for ENDA has been going on for the better part of 20 years. Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, among others have tried to get a bill to a vote. Unfortunately, obstructionism always got the better of them. It has to be passed at the federal level. Doing so could afford equal rights in employment, housing, public accommodations, and voting. The last one we really don’t need, but you might as well elevate LGBT folks to the same rights as the protected classes. No one is allowed to discriminate based on race, pregnancy, age, race, religion, sex, disability, national origin, or genetic information. Yes, LGBT people can be discriminated against, but not people who have blue eyes. LGBT rights are human rights.
I would like to say thank you to the Supreme Court for giving us the limited rights that we have. I want to thank Congress for being assholes, bigots, racists, pederasts, and lazy. Why do social issues require the intervention of the Supreme Court? In my 36 years, I have only seen one pro-civil rights bill passed, the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s time for Congress to act and pass an inclusive ENDA with full EEOC rights and privileges. We don’t want special treatment; we want equal treatment.
- Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) – Desegregates schools.
- Loving v. Virginia (1967) – Legalizes mixed-race marriage.
- Roe v. Wade (1973) – Legalizes abortion.
- Lawrence v. Texas (2003) – Decriminalizes consenting same-sex sexual relations.
- United States v. Windsor (2013) – Defense of Marriage Act declared unconstitutional.
- Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013) – Makes California’s ban on same-sex marriage illegal.
- Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) – The ultimate ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage.