In an interview with The GA Voice, Barney Frank sounds off on Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin's recent apology to the transgender community for HRC's endorsement of a stripped down version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act back in 2007 that did not provide gender identity protections alongside sexual orientation.
That bill, introduced by Frank, passed the House 235-184 but was never voted on in the Senate.
Chad Griffin’s one of those people whose political judgment seems to be off. The fact is that HRC and I and everybody else were for an inclusive bill in 2007. The issue was we did not have the votes for an inclusive bill. It wasn’t a failure of will. Then the question was, was something better than nothing? Was it better to pass a bill that was protective of lesbian, gay and bisexual people or pass nothing? We tried very hard.
People have this mistaken view of the civil rights movement and say, ‘Well the black people never compromised, they got the whole thing.’ That is just silly nonsense. The first civil rights bill that was passed in ’57 was fairly moderate but it had some good things, and then one passed in ’60, and then one passed in ’64. People are now saying, ‘Well we don’t want ENDA to be just about employment, we want it cover housing, etc.” Well that national federal civil rights bill that Lyndon Johnson signed in 1964 that we’re all celebrating today didn’t include housing! Housing didn’t come until a separate bill was passed after Martin Luther King was murdered in 1968. The notion that you can win your entire victory at once is historically and politically flawed.
The transgender community had this mistaken view that if Nancy Pelosi waved a magic wand, transgender would be included. And we were insisting to them that, look we don’t have the votes, help us lobby. Instead of trying to put pressure on the people who were against them, they thought they could just insist that we do it. We said, ‘We’re trying, but we need your help.’
Frank goes on in the interview to discuss how the topic of trans rights has come a long way in the seven years since then, as well as reveal what he misses most about being a congressman - the friendships and the ability to influence policy.
Check out the full interview HERE.