Contra Jon Rauch, ENDA and Marriage Equality Are Different Aspects Of The Same Fight

In “The End Of Gay Victimhood,” Jon Rauch divides gay rights laws into youthful, strong, responsible laws – i.e., marriage equality – and old, weak, victimhood laws – i..e, anti-discrimination law.

Consider an odd juxtaposition. Same-sex marriage remains controversial, supported by only a slender majority of the public. Yet its momentum is undeniable. Young people take marriage equality as a given. Even most of its opponents tell pollsters they expect to lose.

By contrast, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) is stalled in Congress. Again. First proposed as long ago as 1974 and now having been introduced in every Congress but one since 1994, it recently won passage in the Senate but will go nowhere in the House. ENDA enjoys broader public support than gay marriage; properly explained, it is barely even controversial. (Most Americans believe, incorrectly, that federal law already protects gay people from discrimination.) But no one seems to care enough to pass it. [...]

The next Congress should be the second since 1994 when ENDA is not introduced—this time because gays ourselves have decided to move on. A country of gay spouses and parents and service members and veterans is a country of gay citizens, not gay victims.

A few points:

1) Giving citizens the tools needed to fight discrimination is the polar opposite of “victimhood.”

2) If we judged marriage equality by the same silly standard Rauch uses for anti-discrimination laws – the ability to get passed in the GOP House – then we’d have to conclude that marriage equality is dead.

3) Consider another juxtaposition – the two maps at the top of this post. They’re almost identical. In the states where lgbt people are most seen as full and equal citizens, both anti-discrimination and marriage equality laws have advanced.

4) Rauch’s position stinks of a rich gay man who, having gotten the equality that matters for his life, prepares to toss everyone else under the bus.

Hat tip: The Dish.

This entry posted in Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues, Same-Sex Marriage, Transsexual and Transgender related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

9 Responses to Contra Jon Rauch, ENDA and Marriage Equality Are Different Aspects Of The Same Fight

  1. 1
    mythago says:

    Raunch is the same guy who, a few years back, argued that instead of same-sex marriage we should push for civil unions with religious exemptions big enough to drive a bus through. He’s a professional quisling.

  2. 2
    Grace Annam says:


    The next Congress should be the second since 1994 when ENDA is not introduced—this time because gays ourselves have decided to move on. A country of gay spouses and parents and service members and veterans is a country of gay citizens, not gay victims.

    Speaking as a trans lesbian whose state-of-residence permits people to fire her for being trans, pluck your head out and look around. The fact that I have to worry about whether someone will fire me because I’m trans doesn’t necessarily make me a victim, but it does limit my employment opportunities and economic mobility, by making it less worthwhile for me to take risks. I’d like to not have to worry so much about that. You apparently know what that’s like. Must be nice.


  3. 3
    rimonim says:

    Excellent points, Ampersand. Rauch’s argument is completely nonsensical, per your point 1. Rauch apparently does not know or care that ENDA (as currently stuck in the House) includes transgender people, for whom employment discrimination is a HUGE ongoing concern, much more pressing than SSM, I would say.

    Did you catch his off-hand statement that, “Over time, though, the responsibility agenda has done for gays what Israel has done for Jews”? Wtf? It’s actually more true than he knows, in that Zionism tends to marginalize people (non-Ashkenazi Jews, and obviously Palestinians!) much like his version of gay rights excludes trans folks, poor folks, etc.

  4. 4
    NancyP says:

    Thanks, Amp. Hello, Grace. I agree that Rauch is just plain silly and is blinded by his status as a rich gay man living in a part of the country where anti-discrimination laws are already in place. Trans-inclusive ENDA is needed. I live in one of the last states to give up on its post-Lawrence unconstitutional sodomy laws, and discrimination is A-OK in this state.

  5. Pingback: John vs Jon: Culhane Rebuts Rauch On “Gay Victimhood” | Alas, a Blog

  6. 5
    Copyleft says:

    He is correct, though, in noting that appeals for equal responsibility automatically get more respect than appeals for equal rights (what he calls ‘victimhood’).

    I think a lot more people would respect feminism if women demanded to be included in draft registration, for example.

  7. 6
    NancyP says:

    The people who don’t respect feminism are against women participating in the military. People who are against equal rights are for keeping the power/money-enhancing rights and necessarily associated responsibilities to themselves, delegating the uncompensated responsibilities to women, and delegating the poorly compensated responsibilities to men of color and to women of all origins. Copyleft, get real and quit the concern-trolling.

    Women are demanding to be considered for “combat duty” positions, but are unable to apply due to the blanket ban on women in “combat duty” positions. A demand to be registered would be symbolic, without practical effect. For the US at this time, it makes no sense to have universal registration for anyone, male or female, in an all-volunteer army; registration is vestigial. If the government wants to have universal registration for the purpose of draft if volunteers are insufficient in number, it would make sense to register everyone of the appropriate age regardless of gender, as does Israel.

  8. 7
    Ruchama says:

    I think the two issues actually go together somewhat. I seem to recall that part of the reasoning behind the ruling that the male-only draft was OK, last time it was challenged, was that, since women are barred from from combat duty, male draftees are more useful to the military.

  9. 8
    mythago says:

    Ruchama: You are correct.

    Copyleft: Unfortunately, that is not the case.

    First, as you are probably aware, the official position of NOW is, and for decades has been, that Selective Service shouldn’t exist at all, but if it exists, it should include women. So I’m thinking that if the largest and best-known feminist organization in the US has a longstanding policy that males-only Selective Service is wrong, and that doesn’t change anyone’s mind about feminism, then your theory is incorrect.

    Second, as I’ve recounted before, when I was a young slip of a thing, I sent in my registration for Selective Service. (We don’t actually have “the draft” in the US.) I got a form letter explaining that as I was female, I didn’t need to register. I wrote back explaining that yes, thank you, I know I’m female, and I want to register anyway. Some poor new hire at the DOJ got stuck composing a terse letter back to me explaining that the statute only authorized requiring males to register, and if I didn’t like it I should take it up with the Congress.

    For as long as I was still of an age to register, whenever I bumped into some douchetool flapping his lips about women aren’t drafted argleblargh, I would say “Great! I have this rejection letter. I would be happy to be a test case for any group that would like to challenge the law, which, as you are surely aware, was enacted by a virtually all-male Congress, signed by a male President and upheld by an all-male Supreme Court.” And invariably I got – and still get, whenever I tell this story, one of two reactions:

    1) Silence and/or complete change of subject.
    2) A grudging admission that, okay, the draft wasn’t really the point, it was just one example and if it’s wrong that doesn’t matter because [rant about how oppressed men are in all things]. Basically, the same as #1 only with a lame explanation before the change of subject.