Is that they're splitting it into two bills, one for sexual orientation, one for gender identity. From the SF Chronicle:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Reps. George Miller, D-Martinez, Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., believe they lack the votes in the Democrat-controlled House to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if it includes gender identity along with sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for firing an employee.
Frank and Baldwin are the only openly gay members of Congress.
"People now accept the fact that we just don't have the votes for the transgender," Frank said.
So, basically, they cut the T out of LGBT. We know that the gender identity one is going to languish while the sexual orientation bill will have better chances.
Barney Frank is mad about people's reaction to this and got totally bitchy in his interview with the Chronicle. That's after the jump.
On the issue of the votes, Frank said:
Some gay activists said Democratic leaders were worried that including transgender people in the employment discrimination bill would expose conservative House Democrats to a tough vote.
Frank dismissed that charge as "stupid."
"They had no idea what they were talking about," Frank said. "We put them to a vote on transgender hate crimes. We're going to put them to a vote on sexual orientation. The problem wasn't that we were afraid of it. We just didn't have the votes."
Actually, Rep. Frank, that's not stupid. Whether you're saying that "we're afraid we won't get enough votes" or "we just don't have the votes", the sentiment is the same: y'all are giving up.
And he responds to my feelings above right here:
To those who argue Frank and other Democrats were caving in by dropping transgender people from the employment discrimination bill, he said, "Have they been living in Sweden and thinking they were in America for the last 20 years? We're going to go ahead with sexual orientation for the first time in American history. Why would timid people be pushing people to do that?"
It's always about Sweden, isn't it? Actually, I do think we live in a country where gender identity protections can pass, and I live in rural/exurban Indiana, not Sweden.
And on the difference between trans protections in hate crimes leg and ENDA, he says:
"Simply protecting, or trying to protect someone against assault is very different from saying you have to hire the person and let them live here and sleep here, etc., etc." Frank said. "Obviously, we didn't think that was persuasive."
AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! ENDA will FORCE people to hire MEN IN DRESSES!!! AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!
Actually, Concerned Woman Matt Barber ended up sounding quite a bit more reasonable:
Removing transgender people may do little to appease conservative groups. Matt Barber, policy director for Concerned Women for America, said his group is "opposed to the concept of granting suspect minority status to any group based on behaviors, as opposed to immutable characteristics."
I doubt many people are actually thinking hard enough to make a distinction between trans folk and gay and lesbian folk.
So, thanks everyone, I can still be fired for being too femmy if this passes, but not for being gay, if the conditions are right. I can feel the difference.