It ended about ten minutes ago as I write this, and I have to say I was, for the most part, impressed. At some points, even proud.
Opening statements made by Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank were both powerful and moving. Despite my many previous bashings of Frank in the past, I must say that for the most part he acquitted him admirably here.
While I probably wouldn't have made a point of mentioning how great it was that the subcomittee was even bothering to hold a hearing on transgender employment rights in the first place as Frank did, I also think he took exactly the right tack in making the point that transpeople should be entitled to the same rights as everyone else, that if those present could support someone like himself being treated as an equal then they should also be willing to do the same in the case of a transgender person.
This is exactly the argument I've been hoping to see Barney Frank make publicly for years now, the one that we all know he's much too smart not to know is not only compelling but has the additional advantage of being absolutely true; it's not about rights gays or rights for transgender people, it's about rights for all Americans.
Another surprise, to me at least, was Committee Chairman Rob Andrews. Like, Frank, Andrews voted for the non-inclusive version of ENDA when it passed in the House, but spoke eloquently during this hearing in favor of protecting transgender people from employment discrimination. Also, his questioning of Glen Lavy, Senior Council for the Alliance Defense Fund, a right wing anti-LGBT organization, was sharp, cutting to the bone of Lavy's protests to reveal the truth, that the argument Lavy was really offering is that businesses should be allowed the right to discriminate in hiring, ostensibly based on the business owner's religious beliefs.
It could be fairly argued that Andrews was the best speaker of the day with Barney a close second and Tammy a solid third. All three of these people voted for the non-inclusive bill, though Baldwin did so with publicly noted reservations. And now, here they are, leading the charge for fair and equal treatment of trangender persons.
What did we just see here? Did we just witness a single hearing that will now be quickly forgotten as the politicians move on to other business or the formal introduction of a sea change in the way this Congress is going to deal with LGBT civil rights issues in the future, a way more in keeping with the values of an anticipated upcoming Obama Administration? Or did we see the beginnings of something else entirely, something yet to be fully revealed? The honest answer is I don't know, but maybe, just maybe, there's reason to hope.