Representative Barney Frank: Blatantly Duplicitous
One thing [the transgender community around the late 80’s] didn’t take into account was how deeply entrenched the anti-transgender attitudes and doctrines were amongst gay and lesbian leaders. Barney Frank (D-MA) is a prominent example of it. They still persisted in holding the view that transgender people were ‘crazy queens’ who would cost them their rights. Gay leaders were still trying to use the 70’s assimilationist strategy to counter the Religious Right campaign against gay civil rights fueled by fear of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
—Monica Roberts, discussing attitudes and advocacy on the pre-2004 versions of ENDA in Why The Transgender Community Hates HRC
On October 19th, Representative Barney Frank publicly came out in support of the Baldwin amendment. In his released statement, he said:
“The decision to offer such an amendment came out of a Caucus which Chairman George Miller held of the Democratic Members of the Education and Labor Committee. After some discussion, it became clear that offering such an amendment would offer us the best chance to achieve Speaker Pelosi’s goal of adopting in the House the most inclusive ENDA bill for which majority support existed.
“I argued in favor of transgender inclusion when I testified on the original legislation on September 5, but many of us believed that sending the full inclusive bill to the floor would open the door to a series of demagogic procedural moves that would have endangered our chances of a passing any bill at all. The discussion held by the Democratic Members of the Education and Labor Committee, Congresswoman Baldwin and myself resulted in this approach and I believe it meets the goal of giving people the opportunity to support a fully inclusive bill while avoiding the potential parliamentary death traps that would otherwise have resulted. I will on the floor of the House be repeating essentially the arguments in favor of transgender inclusion which I made in the September 5 hearing, because we will now be able to do that in a procedural setting that allows us to maximize support for an inclusive bill without endangering our chances of getting any bill at all.”
Privately, Representative Barney Frank’s message to his congressional peers has been much, much different.
Behind the public view, several congresspeople, congresspeople’s staffs, and other government sources have reported to ENDA activists that Representative Frank is strongly advocating in private for congresspeople to vote against the Baldwin Amendment because, in his opinion, it would cause the bill itself to fail.
The debate over whether or not ENDA should or shouldn’t be fully inclusive shouldn’t be about individuals or organizations, but on the facts and merits of the issue. However, on the subject of how inclusive ENDA should be, the blatant duplicity found between Representative Frank’s public and private statements is utterly reprehensible…it’s utterly unacceptable.
Representative Frank may be my ally on transgender inclusion in years to come, but I will never again consider what he says publicly to be even marginally truthful.