Taken from ActonPrinciples site,
In a shocking bit of news, it appears that the main LGBT organizations are blocking the inclusion of Title VI in the “Omnibus” equality bill being developed by Representative Polis for filing in January.
The outline shared by Polis’ office is sweeping, but clearly omits Title VI, which pertains to all federally funded programs, and marriage equality, which is not even on the table.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act reads:
Sec. 2000d. Prohibition against exclusion from participation in, denial of benefits of, and discrimination under federally assisted programs on ground of race, color, or national origin.
No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Including Title VI in a true omnibus would add “sexual orientation and gender identity” to this list, as has been proposed regularly since the omnibus idea first emerged in 2008, and would effectively end federally subsidized discrimination.
It appears, however, that a long-needed coalition of LGBT corporations has formed, and is now speaking with one voice against an inclusive omnibus.
WHY IS GAY INC AGAINST AN INCLUSIVE BILL?
The pro-offered argument is “pragmatism.” In other words, as the story goes, the Omnibus will be more viable legislatively if Title VI is not included.
Of course, this sounds immediately fishy. It would almost be better to hear them say: “We don’t want to put Title VI in play in 2012 because it will force Obama’s hand, and the opposition will be saying: ‘Look they want to force homosexuality on your community. Boo.’ So, since this is an election year, let’s file w/out Title VI, and then we’ll add it later, after the next election.”
It’s actually a convincing argument and we’ve heard ones like it before, like when they sought to leave transgendered people out of ENDA. It’s a politics of compromise whereby we negotiate against ourselves, before the game even starts, compromising principle, deflecting the call for equality.
BUT WE ARE A MOVEMENT FOUNDED ON THE PRINCIPLE THAT ALL PEOPLE ARE CREATED EQUAL AND ENTITLED AS A MATTER OF INALIENABLE HUMAN RIGHTS TO BE PROTECTED BY THEIR GOVERNMENT FROM DISCRIMINATION BASED ON THE STATUS OF THEIR INNATE SEXUALITY AND GENDER.
If this is remotely true, filing an omnibus without TITLE VI sure doesn’t cut it.
Think about it. Title VI, by making it illegal to discriminate using federal money, enlists an enforcement army of thousands of contract managers, managing over $3,400 billion dollars, to stamp discrimination out. It is the mechanism by which our federal non-discrimination policy becomes a social norm via the vast economic power of the United States. This is how the money talks.
Of course, Gay Inc knows all of this. Representative Polis knows all of this. The DNC knows all of this.
So WHY does the outline Rep. Polis issued NOT INCLUDE TITLE VI?
Title VI, which has been in the eQualityGiving.org Omnibus since 2008, and the American Equality Bill from the outset. Title VI which puts “non-discrimination based on race, color, and national origin,” on every contract to every school, to every homeless youth program, to every police department, state, city, town, hospital, etc.
To many, this is where “pragmatism” comes into the picture, not in defining the goal. Because there is a reason the various non-discrimination laws exist, and their benefits will be of equal value to our community, and their exclusion our equal loss.
SO IS THIS REALLY PRAGMATISM?
Possibly, but is that the appropriate standard? What is pragmatism anyway?
Pragmatism is the obstacle of choice in politics. It lives within the now, or even the past, but not the future. It says: yes your equality may be what you want, but do not seek it. It is the voice of the impossible blocking change.
From 1974 to 1994, LGBT organizations backed a Civil Rights Bill. In 1994, weary from a decade of AIDS, we made the pragmatic decision to drop an equality bill, and thereby, separated ourselves from our Civil Rights heritage. We decided to seek only an end to employment discrimination in a deal with potential allies, and for 17 years, have fought that pragmatic fight, unbeknownst to society at large.
Meanwhile, the world has passed us by. Marriage is legal in Argentina and South Africa where “sexual orientation” is protected in the Constitution. Our plight is recognized by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Organization of American States, which has made explicit the duty under international law to “prevent, punish and eradicate” discrimination based on SO&GI.
The United States pushed those international resolutions under President Obama and Secretary Clinton, and is bound by them. They know that Title VI is the fulfillment of this duty. Everyone does. Surely pragmatism cannot dictate that we not seek its protection. The protection of human rights, under a clear duty to act, but not for us?
SO WHY WOULD REPRESENTATIVE POLIS LEAVE IT OUT?
Because HRC, the NGLTF, NCLR, and a confidential list of others, led by an invisible hand, managed behind closed doors in secret and in concert, like only corporations can, have decided that it is not “pragmatic” to even file a bill for Equal Civil Rights protections. That we should not seek equal protection under the law, not now, not yet. That we should wait, and follow, with no public open conversation about the entire matter.
Of course it does depend on WHY WE ARE EVEN FILING AN OMNIBUS BILL?
NO ONE THINKS we are filing this bill to pass in this Congress. That is not the point.
The point of the omnibus, like the AEB, is to put EQUALITY on the table. To take OUR stance. To reflect OUR dignity. Not as a statement of the possible, but as a statement of collective intention to manifest our liberation.
It is an opportunity to be the change we seek. It is the chance to make our equality a major issue in the 2012 race, by giving our own people a beacon.
This is the “intangible” that pragmatic legislative or corporate analysis fails to grasp: The power of Collective Intention to manifest change beyond the possible in today’s terms. The power of a shared dream.
THE LOVERS & THE DREAMERS UNDERSTAND THIS.
Our movement is ultimately about love. And two-spirited people have long been the shamans and visionaries, still dancing among us today. When Richard Noble takes to walking across country for Equal Civil Rights, he points the way. When the Mayor of West Hollywood and the City Council, as duly elected officials of a city that is 40% LGBT, issue a Resolution for the AEB, they declare it. When the Mayor of Salt Lake City calls upon the U.S. government for Equal Civil Rights for LGBT Americans, the way is clear.
Like this, we need Congressman Polis to be a representative visionary. As a rather pragmatic truth, the LGBT community has no directly elected representatives, neither among its organizations nor in Congress. So as a community and people, we rely on surrogates, custodians of the public trust to do the community bidding.
In this spirit, the call for the Omnibus has repeatedly come from the community. When eQualityGiving put forth the original draft in 2008, and The Dallas Principles spoke the truth of unity. When the National Equality Marchers demanded “Full Federal Equality.” When The American Equality Bill Project encamped for 37 days, and activists fasted. When hundreds chanted “CIVIL RIGHTS NOW” in Grand Central Terminal.
The community has spoken. When the Mayors of Oakland, Reno, Boulder, Salt Lake City and West Hollywood issue Proclamations. When the LGBT Community Centers in Denver & Boulder – the Congressman’s own district – issue Resolutions explicitly calling for Title VI and EQUAL Civil Rights.
When the Wall Street Occupiers say no more corporate control of politics and take to the street for the voice of the people, they speak for our movement as well. The legitimacy of our movement depends on it, and our destiny is tied to it. Corporations cannot set the dreams for all of us.
Our movement is spiritual. We seek to free people from discrimination that binds their very being, denying their soul’s journey on earth and the safe haven to become their authentic self. We are liberating all of society by securing the acknowledgement by this Government of its primary duty: to protect us as we are, not as someone else would have us be.
Ultimately our cause is a focal point of today’s holy wars, calling the ultimate question of love or anger, compassion or judgment. And we should no longer hide from this responsibility or avoid this role.
When we INCLUDE TITLE VI we start a macro conversation about WHY LGBT PEOPLE ARE NOT ALREADY COVERED EQUALLY by federal non-discrimination laws, WHY we are not treated with dignity, and WHY discrimination is wrong.
When we INCLUDE TITLE VI we announce what we intend to accomplish, and that YES we are speaking to everyone, everywhere in this Country.
When we INCLUDE TITLE VI we are saying we are equal, and we expect our POLITICIANS to say so too.
We have had decades of pragmatism, while societal acceptance has over shot our own organizational expectations.
We’ve bowed to allies and other minorities, denying our own dignity in the process.
We’ve seen more and more teenagers taking their lives because we won’t force the macro conversation we need to have to address a societal wide illness of homophobia and transphobia, cultivated by our own Government and propagated by its laws, that leads to barbaric acts like parents rejecting their own offspring or people tied to fences and beaten to death.
We see exponential mental illnesses among our people, spiking under anti-gay referendum, police abuse, killings, political ostracizing, families torn apart, and the generalized rejection of an entire segment of society by their own community, not as a group, but individually in a forced emotional isolation born of fear.
The Civil Rights Act can’t change this. But the debate over our Equal Inclusion can. And then, after we win the legislative battle, after we build a chorus so loud we can no longer be ignored. Title VI will push that conversation deeply into every corner of this country, leaving no child behind and no dream deferred.
We’ve seen a sea change in public opinion ushered in by television programming, but not by a mass movement.
It’s time to find our common intention to liberate ourselves as a matter of entitlement.
It’s time to find our voice as a community entitled to respect as a matter of consciousness.
It’s time to file a bill for equality that says: WE ARE EQUAL & WE ARE NEXT.
For AN INCLUSIVE OMNIBUS, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input is invited.