Alex Blaze

Barney Frank: Lobby like the NRA

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 12, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Barney Frank, Congress, Don't Ask Don't Tell, ENDA, George Miller, interview, Karen Ocamb, LGBT, Senate, transgender

Karen Ocamb has a great, wide-ranging interview up with Barney Frank about DADT, ENDA, and other LGBT legislation that's worth reading if you want to know what's up with what. And he's trying to rally the troops:

So what the committee needs to do now is make sure we have the votes. There's only one way to do it - it doesn't mean marching, it doesn't mean waving signs. It means calling up their representatives - the members of the House who represent them - and say, please vote for this bill and please oppose watering down the transgender provision. But the House has already passed the bill without it, which helped us because it helps us focus. Call people and say we want you to support the bill and don't water down the transgender provision - because that's the point of political trouble. And they should start calling now. I believe we'll get a vote sometime this month.[...]

Or by marching on Washington. They tell me they were going to put pressure on Congress. All they put pressure on was the grass. Members of Congress didn't know it [the National Equality March] happened because they didn't call anybody. And I don't understand why they think that works. By the way - you know who understands that? The National Rifle Association. They don't have shoot-ins and rifle marches - they write and call. The NRA - person for person - they are extremely influential because they lobby that way.

So again - we've got the parliamentary ducks in order. Help us get the votes.

He also explained more exactly what the transgender issue was with ENDA:

Essentially, there are full protections for people who are transgender with a couple of provisos: One - the employer can ask for a gender consistent dress code. No mustaches and dresses. Two - people with one set of genitals do not have a legal right to get naked in front of the other set, is the basic way to put it. Some accommodation has to be made there.

If you insist on the right for unrestricted access to bathrooms - we lose. And we're making some accommodations here. And we worked it out with the transgender community. We had people very upset when we raised it - it because clear we couldn't pass the bill without it.

Karen also called up Rep. Miller, chair of the House Education and Labor Committee who we're still waiting on to schedule a vote on ENDA:

I spoke with Rep. Miller's press secretary Aaron Albright about when we can expect a vote on ENDA. He said "nothing is scheduled yet, " thought Chairperson Miller "committed to a vote early this year." I asked him when "early" ends - but he would not speculate on when a date might be set.

When it comes to DADT, Frank is sure it'll get a vote and pass the House, not so sure about the Senate. I'd also like to know where he got this 90% number:

I'm frustrated. I'm disappointed with the administration, in part. There have been some good things. Admiral Mullen saying what he said was spectacular. And enforcing it the way it was originally supposed to - even though I didn't like it - discharges can be cut by over 90 percent.

Go read the whole thing if you're at all interested in LGBT legislation passing.

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.

Wonderful. Barney Frank wants me to be forced into the mens room to be raped and murdered. Thanks.

Um… ok, so “no mustaches and dresses”
That’s gonna piss off my aunt. Will she be able to write off electolysis as a viable tax deduction now? I hope so…

“People with one set of gentials do not have the legal right to get naked in front of the other set”
Sure, no problem there, I can fully understand that. (someone alert the bedroom police!)

“insist on the right for unrestricted sccess to bathrooms – we lose”
Um… erm… OK, I’m Intersexed. True, I am also Transgender but as an Intersexed citizen if we go this route then I want MY ‘IS’ ONLY BATHROOM/LOCKER ROOM! I’m tired of ….HUMANS, staring at me like I’m an alien from another planet. I’ve been thrown out of both mens and womens facilities and I AM TIRED OF IT!

….I know, *sigh* I never win that argument.
Its just they don’t put an ash tray or rubber tree plant between the doors of the mens/womens any more and now I don’t have a place to pee… well,…

I guess there’s always the water fountian..


OK, I know I probably managed to irritate a few people with my post. Yes, it’s a bit flippant and assinine. But I’ve been dealing with ‘the bathroom’ question since I was like 8.

I’ve been given dirty looks, told to get out, pushed, shoved, beaten… the list goes on and it doesn’t get nicer. It doesn’t matter which place I’m in. Men’s, women’s… doesn’t matter at all.

When I was a young teenager, me being in a men’s space as a very young Intersexed person who everyone ID’s as female was anything from just hazardous to down right suicidal.
Sadly, I still have to deal with it nearly every day.
I’m tired of it and I know I still can’t win.

So, I joke about it. Gallows humor.

Well, I, for one, wasn't upset about your comment at all. Even a little.

THe Trans stuff in the article though I *ack* *cough*

*spasm* *twitch*


*rumbling noise*


Ph**** transphobic sexist sons of mother ph... bi... with sh... for ph... brains as... no ba... as... with ph... grrrr, arrgh, grrr...

*end transmission*
*line melt*

Now now, calm down Antonia. I'm sure Joe over at HRC will be able to explain how those political trade offs and accommodations work.

Barney pissed off a lot of people when he poo-pooed the March on Washington, and now he's trying to defend his (in)actions?

Is it re-election time?

Angela Brightfeather | April 12, 2010 9:32 PM

"And we're making some accommodations here. And we worked it out with the transgender community. "

Oh really!!! what part of the community was that, the Harry Figgin Benjamin Society." I'd sure liek to know who the Trans consultants were on this scheme.

So my big question after "I told you so", is what are the FtoM's supposed to do, bend over and get raped? Becuase everyone knows that if many men will fuck a melon with the right size hole in it, is any FtoM safe in the men's room? Or is that one of the exceptions that Barney thinks is OK? In other words, if your wearing a penis, even though your so dosed up with hormones that you couldn't be a threat even after popping 40 viagra pills, go use the men's rest room.

How stupid are these people and how much of a court case might one have if they pass as female but are forced to use the men's room and get put in a hospital for weeks after getting beat up?

Well, go aback a few monthys ago and look at my post on this one and once again, I called it.

I say leave ENDA the way it was and stop the BS with it and bring it to the floor for a vote so we can finally see who the ass holes are besides Frank.

And people ask me why I'm not a part of the democratic party, I'll add this to the list.

Barney Frank knows lobbying doesn't work - it's all part of the "game." The political game.

No progress until we get people to join us. Hopefully we'll figure that out soon.

And Barney Frank continues to dogwhistle transphobia. The stuff he's talking about is stuff that he personally has promoted, not compromises he's had to make.

He's so full of shit his eyes are brown.

ENDA is about job protections for LGBT individuals, correct? So why are so many people who replied upset at the relatively minor provisions made in the current flavor of ENDA to make the trans portion of the equation more palpable to the general public?

Is it really that important to you to be able to wear a mustache and a dress at work? Or to be naked in public with mixed gender parts?

Oh wait, I forgot. Of course it is. Most of you are activists! As opposed to people who simply want to get/keep a job. ENDA, for you, is not about job protection.

Having said this let me clarify that the intersexed are another issue all together. In extremely rare cases. Most intersexed, to my knowledge of biology, have no genetic requirement to wear a dress and mustache at work. Or to be naked in public.

Let me be clear in saying in an utopian alternative dimension I happen to agree with the gender queer trans folks and intersexed who insist on no compromise. The whole rules of gender thing is ridiculous and I say this as a full time MTF TS.

However, trans and intersexed people need job protection now. Compromise is necessary in this dimension to get it.

Basically, I agree with you, but when a politician who's supposed to be our *friend* puts it in such absurd, stereotypical language, I'm not sure what the proper response should be, unless it's "Okay, Barn, what's the real story here? Why are you acting like such a jerk?"

But that kind of hardball question never shows up in these interviews, does it? Somehow, we're never supposed to question our Great and Wonderful Leaders, no matter what kind of horse's behinds they make of themselves. After the March, he could have used his much ballyhooed clout to open a few doors... but because no one came begging for his approval beforehand, he decided he didnt want to play along and promptly slammed a few shut instead.

And now he's saying "Well, maybe... perhaps... as long as we dont have to deal with that icky bathroom thing..." I mean, please. What kind of leadership is that? What sort of compromise do you expect to receive when it's put in such insulting terms?

Truly, who's he playing to here?

Kathy Padilla | April 13, 2010 11:39 AM

First - I think we need to actually see this language rather than just hearing some vague statements about what it actually says. It's been around for months - and yet it hasn't been made available.

It would seem that he's less playing too than trying to stifle the voices of those who might possibly have legitimate concerns over the provisions of this section of enda if they were permitted to see them. Regarding the whole “moustaches” bit - He has a history of some difficulty with addressing trans issues without using .....unfortunate language choices. The whole "people with transgender" phraseology comes to mind.

Not explicitly supporting trans people who have transitioned in using restrooms that match their post transition gender would be a significant change in Congressman Frank’s stance – he explicitly supported this at least as far back as 2002 in his letter to Philadelphia advocates working on the Revision to the Fair Practices Ordinance. Though, we weren’t able to use the letter do to some language within it addressing showers. I must still have a copy of that somewhere. It passed Council 15 to 2.

So - while I may be able to support a bill that has provisions I abhor if it's truly the only choice we have & it gets people work - accepting making that choice implies having sufficient information for it to be an informed choice. And hopefully the discussion can go forward without using statements that reinforce the language used by our detractors. That helps no one.

On calling my Congresspeople. I've met both of my Senators & my Congressman on these issues - and their staffs several times. Over many years. But - it's hard for me to advocate effectively for this bill right now - without knowing more fully how it may effect me. The time has come to share the language the Congressman is talking about.

What do you mean by "transitioned?" or "post-transition?"

If you mean having had surgery, that leaves the majority of trans people in the cold.

Kathy Padilla | April 13, 2010 12:08 PM

I don't mean surgery.

I think the word you're looking for is 'palatable', rather than 'palpable'.

But regardless, the whole 'naked in front of people with the other set of genitals' is a blatant straw man, and it's more than disappointing that he's giving it that much credence. I mean, really, when was the last time you saw someone else's genitals in the restroom? Even in a men's room there are stalls. It's an imaginary issue; a big blown-up transphobic bogyman.


Those are dogwhistles appealing to transphobic stereotypes of trans people. People are reacting to this:

If you insist on the right for unrestricted access to bathrooms - we lose. And we're making some accommodations here.

Basically, he's saying that having ENDA say that trans people must be able to use appropriate restrooms means the bill will fail.

I find this difficult to believe because it was always Barney himself who promoted the idea that trans people using restrooms with cis people was dangerous and destabilizing, and the whole thing about trans people using restrooms has always been a derailing fake concern used to deny us rights everywhere else.

My own concern is that this will turn out to be a loophole that will allow on-the-job discrimination against trans people. I think, given the language of Barney's equivocation there, this is a valid concern.

However, trans and intersexed people need job protection now. Compromise is necessary in this dimension to get it.

Also, this was the same argument used to justify cutting trans people entirely out of ENDA in 2007.

I thought about this when I made my post. The more inclusive LGBT legislation is the more people are protected but the less likely the legislation will pass to protect anyone.

While I don't think there ever will be a good answer to this dilemma a rule of thumb I use is to figure out the motivation behind a person's behavior and act accordingly. For example, many activists appear to be motivated to draw maximum attention to themselves. A simple way I've demonstrated this to myself many times in the past is to e-mail "name" activists suggesting LGBT friendly things that would not draw maximum attention to them. Replies received so far: zero. Test it out yourself. E-mail any name activist asking them for help finding a job in the area they live in. I doubt you get much response. In public they're about job rights. In private not so much.

Working within any legislation does not appear to be the goal of many of our "name" activists particularly the trans and gender queer ones. After all this would involve fitting in and not having everyone pay a great deal of attention to them. So I think we need to be careful to pay much more attention to the real world needs of the many than to the ego needs of our activists. In the trans world a great many of us need job protection. Yet vanishingly few really need the right to wear a mustache and dress at work.

The nudity and "mustache and dress" comments were straw men. They had no bearing on reality or any trans people's expressed needs in ENDA. It has no bearing on any activism, it's Barney Frank being a transphobic ass. Are you seriously suggesting they have any bearing on the conversation? That Barney Frank was doing anything but floating stereotypical and hypersexualized images of trans people?

The only point that he made that had bearing on the actual ENDA was that ENDA won't pass if it mandates appropriate restroom access for trans people. Do you know who first introduced the "we can't let trans people share restrooms and showers with cis people" argument to Congress? It was Barney Frank, years ago. He's always bringing up restrooms and fanning the flames about how terrible it would be to let trans people use the proper restrooms.

I have no idea what you're talking about with regards to the rest. I don't think your test (e-mailing busy people and asking them to help you personally with something that they may very well be having trouble with themselves) is really all that telling.

Ok, I'm a *little bit* more calm, and can actually read this (and the source article it's analysis of) without synapse misfiring.


Ok, yeah, I can see the political liability of "mustache and dress". Really, I can.

Let me point one little thing out, though: Trans is a really big group of very different people. And part of the effort to get gender expression covered is that some people do wear dresses and have mustaches.

I, personally, may not like that. I personally don't like a lot of things. Like certain religious beliefs. Or even some of the code requirements for disability. OR the fact that air quality measurements are varied according to the location (it's ok for one city to have poisonous air but not the city down the road apiece). OR that soldiers are dying in a couple wars.

The point being that just because I don't like it, that doesn't make it right for someone to legislate it that way.

THat is *legal* discrimination being written. And lest my transsexual peers think I'm going all soft and heading over to the "CD" side: in transition transsexuals often need to engage in hair removal. Ever notice that electrolysis requires you to grow out hair for a couple days. Which would give some transsexuals -- including post operative ones -- mustaches.

Sorry, that's horseshit and whoever made that deal -- whoever it is -- Mara, Diego, I don't care who -- is gonna be on my personal shitlist for the next decade. Because they cut out the important part.

Oh, joy, you get a job, you grow your hair out and you are fired for transitioning. Gee, big improvement. DO it before you get the job? Without money? Oh, wait, I know, it's all about legally requiring everyone to transition on the job, thus wrecking the potential for deception, since everyone will know you are trans, so you have to go get a job before transition.

Yeah, I can see the whole vast panoply there.

So the first one cuts the legs out from under the bill for *most* transfolk, but is pretty good for those who have a lot of luck and great fortune and are predominantly white, from middle class backgrounds and college educated late transitioners, or those who transition in high school and don't need to worry about any of that.

Farking waste.

THen we get to the second big point. "Ya can't mix genital types". Ok, I can actually see the whole deal there -- most trans folk don't want to get naked in front of others, since the generally have body related issues and a heightened sense of modesty far above and beyond the norm until after all their work.

That means, though, that many trans men are SOL when it comes to the showers, no matter what their legal paperwork says.

The last bit depends on what the restrictions to the bathrooms are. But let's look at the first two, shall we?

They are the same things Barney spoke about ages ago. To fellow congressmen. They are his prejudices, and despite his hardworking PR man of a lackey token, that apparently hasn't changed.

About the only restrictions I can think of would based again on gender expression -- specifically, the manner of dress.

History repeats, and so we can prognosticate that's not going to happen. It's going to be made all about surgery.

And if that bill does, in fact, contain language of that sort, then I will, absolutely, agitate and actively work against it.

Because that's not letting Trans people work. That's not changing the paradigm that forces us into bad spots. THat's not a decent compromise, not a workable compromise, and all it does is allow them to say it's inclusive.

Well, fuck that. I will fly to DC and personally attend to each and every senator in getting a no *if* these are the kinds of compromises they are talking about.

It's speculation, and Barney's "testing the waters" here, to see if he can get away with *pretending* it's going to help Trans folk.

No. Toothless legislation is worse than no legislation. They already stripped our ability to sue for any damages from it -- now they are gutting the trans part but including it.

That's a well gnawed bone, and sorry, but One more treatment of the Trans community by the powers that be is going to spark shit like you ain't never seen before.

Oh, well, hell, I didn't think about transitioning on the job or the need for electrolysis.

But I still think that Barney's trying to invoke imagery intended to reduce sympathy for trans people, and I would be completely unsurprised if he was one of those for whom ENDA wouldn't work unless trans stuff was cut.

Don't you think everyone should wait until the bill is reported out of committee and the actual provisions are known? Looks to me like a few trial balloons are being floated more to assuage the opposition than to present anything concrete. American culture is extremely diverse and no bill will ever be passed that is not some sort of a compromise unless prejudice itself vanishes in which case no bill would be necessary.

Just as an example try writing any bathroom provisions and you will quickly run into complexity. Would you write broad ones that let men use the ladies room? Try writing a bill without bathroom guidance and see if you don't get massive objections from businesses saying "what does the bill require us to do or not do". That sounds like attorney heaven which is a continuing barrier to business acceptance of any measures. This issues is a real pissing contest.

Are you aware that several states, counties, and cities across the country already have pretty noncontroversial bathroom provisions that protect trans people's right to use the correct restrooms? You're replicating Focus on the Family talking points here.

I will also add that if ENDA does not require that trans people be allowed to use the correct restrooms, that men will be using the women's restrooms.

Lisa I don't personally care who is in the restroom when I need to use it. I was raised in a very open family with few hangups of that sort but unfortunately that does not seem to be the American norm. You are correct. There are a few precious places across this land where bathroom provisions are non controversial. The problem is with the majority where they are not and where the very mention of such things brings out fear mongering and some really weird reactions.

I think it's interesting to hear Congressman Frank justify his position on the march and how to lobby Congress after Cleve Jones ripped him a new asshole at the LA Stonewall Democratic Club award ceremony.

And Cleve is right. We're not the NRA.

I like the NRA but they would probably get real excited if legislation was introduced forbidding guns in restrooms. Maybe we should suggest that to Barney.

Did Cleve say we weren't the NRA? I didn't see that in the video.

Plus he didn't really respond to Frank's statement. He was just sort of like, Barney Frank's wrong. OK, why? Why shouldn't we be writing letters and calling and lobbying?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | April 13, 2010 10:38 AM

If it's good for LGBT folks, Barney Frank's against it.

He opposed the original form of ENDA and accepted every rightwing Democrat and Republican amendment offered to gut it.

In the process he exposed himself as a virulent transphobic bigot, doing the dirty work usually done by the christer right. He's still at it.

When marriages were authorized in San Francisco he opposed them.

Then the March in Washington became an anti-Obama and anti-Democrat rally demanding passage of our agenda he bitterly opposed it. When the Hate Crimes Bill passed soon after he failed to connect the dots between passage and the MoW.

His lobbying approach, his dependence on hustlers like Obama to keep their campaign promises and his strategy of working through the two bigot parties are strategies for losers.

We'll begin to win when we're independent of Barney Frank and political hustlers like him. We'll begin to win when mass actions become more common, more militant and when our agenda reflects the needs of working class GLBT folks.

A Republican is a rightwing jackass with a theocrat attached at the hip. A Democrat is a Republican in 'progressive' drag. With Democrats like these who needs Republicans.

I know I probably shouldn't jump in, but, well...

When marriages were authorized in San Francisco he opposed them.

He said they'd end up being symbolic. They were. Plus there's a perfectly valid argument that the 2004 marriages weren't much more than a cynical campaign stunt by Gavin Newsom.

Then the March in Washington became an anti-Obama and anti-Democrat rally demanding passage of our agenda he bitterly opposed it.

He was against the march for years. And it never became anti-Obama: the message that the organizers repeated 800 times was that they were marching to help Obama pass certain legislation. They were pretty careful to always say it wasn't against Obama.

When the Hate Crimes Bill passed soon after he failed to connect the dots between passage and the MoW.

Maybe because it was attached to the DOD authorization bill in July and the march was in October, and it had passed the house months before.

HOnesty, I dont think Gavin meant them as a campaign stunt. He's not one for the "politician" style, which is why he's made it abundantly clear he's not interested in running for office ever again. His actions on marriage in San Francisco were meant to push California into *some* kind of action, and in the long run, I think he made the right move. Yes, the marriages were symbolic at best, but even symbols have their importance.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | April 14, 2010 2:28 AM

Jump in anytime, Alex. Teh water's fine. It;s getting warmer all the time.

1. Frank opposed granting same sex marriages in San Francisco. Just like he opposed ENDA. It matters not at all what his excuse was or what Newsome's motives were. I lived in LA for 25 years and no one that I know of thought of their marriages as 'symbolic'. They were very happy to get married and very proud of their marriages.

2. The March on Washington couldn't help but be an anti-Democrat party, anti-Obama rally, irrespective of the intent of some of its organizers. That's why so many LGBT Democrats were in a blind panic about it and did what they could to sabotage it.

In any event, many of the speeches were direct and very radical attacks on Obama and challenges to the Democrats, especially the DNC, run by an ordained pentecostal preacher whose bigotry, like Obama, takes the form of opposing same sex marriage and whose boss is Tim Kaine, a Dixiecrat who also opposes SSM and women's reproductive rights.

Obama has been an open enemy of the LGBT fight for equality from the beginning. His campaign was designed from day one - Donnie McClurkin - to pander to christer bigots and did so successfully. He, the DNC and Joshua Dubois out-Roved Rove, winning a big chunk of the christer bigot vote from the Republicans.

He was largely responsible for the passage of Prop 8, denying same sex marriage rights with his rancid and successful attempt to get out the bigot vote by claiming that same sex marriage is wrong because "gawds's in the mix".

His DoJ regularly defends Clinton's legacy of bigotry - DOMA and DADT - using vile slurs against our communities.

3. The Matthew Shepard Act passed with final votes after a House -Senate conference committee on October 22, 2009, not before. It passed in the House and Senate as a rider to the bill authorizing funds for the continued murder of civilians in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2007 and 2009.

There was no reason to expect that the Democrats wouldn't have repeated their stunt of burying it as they did in 2007 to avoid giving anyone the impression that they were pro-LGBT or to avoid putting Obama on the spot.

The MoW most certainly did have an effect on passage and signing the bill into law.

So you would have preferred McCain, I take it?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | April 14, 2010 10:04 AM

No, voting for McCain would have been just as bad.

Not particularly worse, but just as bad.

So why did you vote for a bigot?

Why did support a party and candidate who promised to escalate the war? Do you have a problem saving the lives of American soldiers or civilians in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistanby by withdrawing the troops and ending the war?

Your candidate is giving the looter rich trillions in outright giveaways and more trillions forcing working people to buy shoddy private health insurance.

Your candidate, as I predicted well before he was elected, is busting unions. The Democrats are imposing draconian cuts in social services while rewarding the looter class for their greed and incompetence by withdrawing federal funding.

I, and about a third of the qualified electorate couldn't stomach voting for a wider war, for bigotry, and for the impoverishment of working people.

People who voted for Obama or McCain obviously didn't mind voting for that.

"When the Hate Crimes Bill passed soon after he failed to connect the dots between passage and the MoW."

Who are you trying to fool. The passage of the Hate Crimes Bill had ZERO to do with the National Equality March, it passed prior to the march occurring!!!

Angela Brightfeather | April 13, 2010 10:56 AM

I just dont see what the argument is about. How can anyone argue that if the bill does have bathroom restrictions on transtioning people, or those who present clearly in one gender or another that it is not prejudicial? It is BS to think anything else and legislation is not supposed to be predjudicial against any minority. If you disagree with that way of thinking, then go to Africa and join in the fight against homosexuality there, you'll feel right at home.

And don't go pinning this on activists either and then pulling a Barney by saying that all activists are purists who only believe in utopian measures and ideals. If Frank was truly an activist legislator like he started out being, instead of biting the big apple, he would be fighting in Congress to stop fighting for ways to make things more palatable for the religious right. Instead he is giving them every excuse to use the bathroom argument over and over again in every kind of local legislation that might come up, painting Trans people as the sexual culprits that need to be watched and excluded from everyday living and participation in things everyone else takes for granted.

I have no idea how Diego Sachez can sit in the same office with Frank and stand by when his boss says these types of things, without advising him to redirect his fears and prjudices against the discriminators instead of those discriminated against. It just doesn't make any sense to me, especially since he knows full well the amount of times that people like himself will be placed in the position of breaking the new law if they don't conform to the new ENDA rules. And they won't!!

This is dangerous, legislative "intent" if nothing else and since most all states don't have a law that says that people have to be subjected to using certain bathrooms in the first place, that is based upon what people can't see anyway unless they grab you in the crotch to check, isn't this whole argument about putting such rules in federal legislation a gigantic crock of shit in the first place?

So first it's simply too complex to write laws that would protect transgender people? Now it's too scary?

The laws exist in more than a precious few places - the entire West Coast has these laws and so far, nothing horrible has happened. There is no basis for fear of terrible consequences, but trans people face consequences of prejudice all the time, including transphobic "concerns" that excuse reasonable accommodations.

This is not a legitimate concern. Voting yes with full protections for trans people will not cost anyone their office. Republicans might panic-monger like they always do but as has always been the case, nothing terrible will happen. Especially nothing that would have been prevented under laws that allow anti-trans discrimination. All this boils down to is inconveniencing trans people to make cis people comfortable in their transphobia.

Arguing that this is just the way things are is ridiculous - of course people are transphobic, but this is why we need the law, not why it should be bartered away. That's the entire point of civil rights legislation, or did the cis LGB add T to the acronym as nothing more than a bargaining chip to buy their own gains?

Lisa I share your concerns, but.... The west is only part of the country and Congress must consider the whole society. Phobia's or not your approach would not sell in places like Birmingham so there is work to be done. How would you like it if Congress said to heck with the feelings of the states we have an energy crisis so effective immediately drilling everywhere offshore in California is legal? That may not be a good example but it was the one that popped into my head. Choose another if you like.

The West Coast is not the only place in the US where these protections exist. There are several more states, cities, and counties that have this protection. You keep trying to narrow them, but I think it just shows you don't realize how far (even piecemeal) transgender rights and protections have come.

Also, the point of anti-discrimination legislation is to prevent legislation. Imagine how many civil rights laws we'd have right now if the answer was always "We can't try to pass this kind of legislation because it would be unpopular with prejudiced bigots?"

Barney Frank's keeping the focus on bathrooms and showers by constantly talking about bathrooms and showers. ENDA is a job bill intended to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination. Telling employees that they're not allowed to use the proper restroom and must either use the wrong one or a special one halfway across the building, or a restroom in another business altogether is workplace discrimination. Why not focus on how this is supposed to protect people from discrimination rather than talk about the alleged (and false) ways that some of the people covered by the bill might be scary to cis people?

Barney Frank has used this tactic for years to undermine a trans-inclusive ENDA.

Kathy Padilla | April 13, 2010 12:17 PM

I think about 40% of the US population currently lives under non-dscrim laws that cover gender identity & don't include this type of language around rest room usage in the bills. well over 100 municiplaities - perhaps closing in on 200?

Most of them actually not passed on the west coast.

I don't think this has been updated in a few years - but - it's a good place to get an impression of where has passed these laws:

Kathy Padilla | April 13, 2010 12:23 PM

Hmm - given that chart is a few years out of date - it might be something like 50%.

Nice. However your chart shows coverage in only 26% of the Senate versus 74% non coverage. In 1787 Roger Sherman proposed the Connecticut compromise and the reality that must be dealt with is that legislation is only successful when passed by a "bicameral," or two-chambered Congress.

The reality is that trans inclusion will be bartered away again or the entire bill will be stalled in the Senate if a small oppressed minority demands some provision that is unacceptable to 74% of the Senate. So what do you suggest?

Kathy Padilla | April 13, 2010 2:17 PM

I'd say your reality is an uproven assumption.

It should aslo be noted that the chart underreports your Senate calc by a number of states, given how out of date it is. If memory serves - it's even missing some statewide bills like Maine's bill. And, of course - whether a state has such a bill somewhere in the state is not necessarily an indication of what a particular Congressmember would vote for - or against.

I'd also suggest that advocates who are being told that they're lobbying can effect a bill shouldn't support premptive capitualtion in the House as a way to effect the Senate if they don't support a provision. If the NRA teaches us anything - it's not to demand less than what you want - don't give in. You may still lose - but - you'll likely grab another slice of pie on the way down.

If the House passes a more acceptable version & the Senate as less acceptable version - you at least have a chance to attenuate the damage in conference.

And I'd ask you - how can you support something when you don't know what it is? We've all seen language of this type that ended up being much more expansive than the previews suggested. Perhaps it covers others who aren't transgender in some damaging ways. If it did - would you still support it?

Kathy I support a fully inclusive bill and am strongly opposed to any language in it that deals with side issues such as restroom etiquette. Having said that my question is what will you advocate if Barney and other lawmakers force that to the table. Would you scuttle trans non discrimination or toss it down the toilet if some disgusting language is included that somehow defines who can use what bathroom? I agree with you when you say let's see what the language really is when it reports out of committee.

Kathy Padilla | April 13, 2010 5:29 PM

I'd say it depends on the language. And that waiting for it to leave committee is waiting until it's too late to have an effect if it is horrible enough to make us all gag.

All of the other parts of the bill are public record by this point - have been for ages.

Thank you, Kathy. Google was failing me last night and I wasn't able to find that.

Lisa I agree with much of what you are saying. But let me point out that someone like Barney is never a problem except when society itself is still struggling with an issue. The original non discrimination legislation was passed 100 years after the emancipation proclamation and during a time of real live civil war taking place in front of a nationwide viewing audience. Even then it took years during the fifties and sixties for society to get such a belly full of disgust at the prejudices they witnessed on the nightly news for the politicians to act. I think society has come a long way indeed but the very fact that Barney can play his games indicates to me that more needs to be done. More of what and how is what everyone should be asking. Debating what is right for one group or another will not get the job done. And no, I don't have any brilliant solution to offer you. How would you suggest overcoming the obstacles?

Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are a part of the problem, but the biggest problem is the gay community's lack of passion, strategy, wisdom, zeal, and commitment to its issues. If this were gun rights advocates, they would have shut down D.C. by now. If it were the religious right during a Republican administration, they would have threatened to stay home en masse in November many times over by now. If it were Blacks, they would have had emergency meetings and rallies at every black church and meeting hall by now. Gays and bisexuals are so pitiful when it comes to political and social action. Sad.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | April 14, 2010 2:36 AM

I think you're wrong. The biggest problem remains the loser strategy of many groups who think that dependence on Republicans or Democrats is the way to win equality.

Happily that view is becoming less and less appealing.

"I'm frustrated. I'm disappointed with the administration, in part. There have been some good things. Admiral Mullen saying what he said was spectacular. And enforcing it the way it was originally supposed to - even though I didn't like it - discharges can be cut by over 90 percent."

I will take 90%. Oh hell yea. Free up some of the Court Cases for the rest of the 10% for some real visibility/protection and aid.

I think Rep. Frank was trying to be helpful, and it is disappointing that he's being attacked. "Marches" are spectacles that get publicity. Publicity does not equate necessarily to political pressure. Personal meetings with our representatives, phone calls, letters, etc. help to move the political process. I don't think Rep. Frank was saying 'don't march.' I think he was saying that's not the way to move the process or to support the cause politically. (I tend to agree with Jake's position. We have to be smart in the approach.)