Brynn Craffey

That's right, Barney, make light of your cowardice

Filed By Brynn Craffey | November 08, 2007 1:55 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Barney Frank, Democrats, ENDA, transgender

As an Irish resident who is both queer-identified and FtM, I am protected from outright discrimination in employment or the delivery of goods and services—such as housing or say, medical care—on both the basis of gender-identity and sexual orientation.

Now, that doesn’t mean that an employer can’t decide to make life in the workplace so miserable and intolerable that I’ll eventually quit. But even on that score, the Equality Authority—which adjudicates discrimination cases—has established a record of strongly defending the rights of LGB and, yes, T folks.

And this comprehensive legal protection exists in a nation that remains strongly Catholic, although many Irish people have grown disenchanted with the Church and attendance at mass has sharply declined in recent years. As a measure of comparison with the US, however, homosexuality was only decriminalized in Ireland in 1993—that’s only 14 short years ago!

And yet, I still enjoy much stronger protection than the majority of LGBT folks in the United States of America. And this after 30 long years of effort.

That is quite simply scandalous.

Unless you’ve spent extended time in Europe since the advent of the Iraq War, Americans don’t have a clue of how profoundly shocked residents are in Europe when they regard the sad state of civil rights in the US.

As members of Congress, who passed the toothless ENDA yesterday by a vote of 235-184, are congratulating themselves, European LGBT activists—if they’re even aware of the situation, which many aren’t—look on in disbelief.

If all this were not upsetting enough, Representative Barney Frank was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article making light of his gross indecency and cowardly act of removing transgender people from ENDA protections.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who has pushed for the legislation for 30 years, said he regretted that political necessity dictated dropping sexual [sic] identity as a separate cause. But, noting that "I also wish I could eat more and not gain weight," Frank, who is also gay, said he would support the bill and "continue to fight." [emphasis mine]

That’s right, Barney, this is all about you and your desire to gorge yourself and yet remain slim. Whatever you do, don’t make the act of tossing gender-variant Americans under the bus while protecting bigots in Congress from having to take any heat for their prejudice actually about the fact that real people will lose their livelihoods as a result of your cowardice and selfishness. Definitely don’t make this about the fact that your divisive actions have the potential to rend alliances within the LGBT movement and cripple us for decades to come.

If I had even a shred of inclination to regard Frank with sympathy, this quote would have killed it.

I am so disheartened. I have spent roughly 25 years arguing, sometimes with lesbians and gays who believe “men in dresses” don’t belong with “LGB,” and other times with transsexuals who want to distance themselves as far as possible from “distasteful queers.” I'm exhausted and sick of the argument. And yet, self-defeating, short-sighted, selfish and ahistorical attitudes, rather than diminishing after 25 years, always seem to find new adherents.

Mostly, I am sickened that this is the best that Democrats—who hold a majority in both houses of Congress!—can offer us after 30 effing years. What a disgrace.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Ugh. Barney Frank is disgusting.

I'm curious how you are defining 'decriminalizing homosexuality'. Obviously the US didn't overturn its sodomy laws until 2003 -- just four years ago -- and it can be argued that it wasn’t until that point that homosexuality was legalized in the states (although I realize that is a pretty essentialist view of what homosexuality is).

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 8, 2007 2:48 PM

Nick, I had to check Wikipedia for the relevant legislation. According to them, "The relevant legislation was the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, and the 1885 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, both enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom before Irish independence. Nonetheless, the state had a long-standing policy of prosecuting people only in cases where minors were involved or sexual acts were committed in public or without consent."

In 1988, under the efforts of Gay Irish Senator David Norris (who is a wonderfully articulate political activist to this day, staunchly opposed to the Iraq war and the Irish government's support of American troops and CIA flights using Shannon airport as a refueling stop) the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the criminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human RIghts, which guarantees the right to privacy in personal affairs. Five years later, the Irish parliament decriminalised homosexual acts, and the law was signed by the Irish president at the time, Mary Robinson. No political parties in the parliament opposed the decriminalisation.

The lack of integrity of so many among or siding with the so-called ENDA United is sadly but repeatedly obvious from the way they twist words. They would fit perfectly in a novel by Orwell or on the staff of the Republican propaganda machine.

For example, your false statement "his gross indecency and cowardly act of removing transgender people from ENDA protections." Never happened and you know it.

Transgenders were removed from the LANGUAGE of a bill PROPOSING protection. Even the final version is not yet law and probably won't be while Bush is in the White House. Precision and honesty are important because too many have turned their disagreement with Frank into demonization of him and too many have listened to them.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 8, 2007 6:13 PM

For example, your false statement "his gross indecency and cowardly act of removing transgender people from ENDA protections." Never happened and you know it.

Bob, I may have used unnecessarily inflammatory language, I'll admit. I was angry when I wrote the post. But making a distinction between the fact that transgender people were removed from the LANGUAGE of the bill, versus...what? The final bill?

Your distinction escapes me. Surely, you don't think Frank wants the bill to fail? His goal is to make it law. And without protection for transgender people.

From where I stand, the fact that the law has a snowballs' chance in hell to become law just makes Frank's actions that much more indefensible. He has been willing to sell out transgender people for a bill that has no chance of becoming law. And for what?! Please, tell me.

And as I said, in addition to gutting a bill unnecessarily, Frank's actions may rend our community for the foreseeable future. What a debacle.


None of us has to apologize for our anger at the abject treachery of the Democrats and their shills. They've put their party before our rights time and time again.

The Democrats successfully torpedoed ENDA by passing their hopelessly ineffective version. They needed a hook to get our votes because their history on DOMA and DADT and other gaybashing laws look bad. (And Barney Frank wanted made good on his threat to punish those who had the temerity to disagree with him.)

Their backstabbing will backfire as the word gets out about the fake ENDA. The Democrat bogus version encourages discrimination by christian totalitarians. The Democrat bogus version encourages discrimination against transsexuals. The Democrat bogus version accepts and reiterates the bigoted premised of their federal DOMA. And worst of all the Democrat bogus versions promise to deliver legal relief is DOA. Millions of GLBT folk face unremitting discrimination d by bigoted bosses who increase their profits enormously by underpaying us and don’t mind sharing with their toadies in Congress.

The bill is so watered down that today’s New York Times reports that “President Bush threatened to veto an earlier version of the bill, but a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said the administration would need to review recent changes before making a final decision.”

The arrogance and stupidity of the Democrats is going to backfire on them. They’re patting themselves on the back thinking they’ve pulled the wool over our eyes. Their shills, brain curdled transphobic right-wingers all, are gloating and swaggering as if they’d actually won something. What senile fools. They’ve succeed only in isolating themselves. Only a tiny few are going to follow them as the march in lock step with the Republicans.

The real activists and real organizations, which are overwhelming opposed to their rightward dance with the Republicans are now left with no choice but to begin organizing independently of the Democrats and Republicans. The fakes have dug themselves a cozy little grave and now they can lie in it. Good Riddance!

As the NLGTF said: “We are relieved this episode is behind us, and starting right now we are going to pick up where we were six weeks ago — namely, working to pass into law in 2009 the ENDA our entire community wants and deserves.” I hope the NLGTF estimate is right but if the Democrats control the Congress and White House don’t bet on it.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 9, 2007 2:32 AM

Bill, I have to admit that the video of Barney Frank posted here on Bilerico shacked me for, among other reasons, Frank's insistence that ENDA would not conflict with DOMA. I understand he had to address the issue of marriage because opponents were making a point of it, but I felt he could have chosen his words much more carefully. The way he spoke, if you didn't know better you'd think he supported DOMA.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 9, 2007 6:12 AM

(That's supposed to be "shocked" me, not "shacked." ;-) )