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NGLTF's Foreman: Barney Frank is 'squeamish' on transgender issues

by Nick Langewis

On Wednesday's installment of Sirius OutQ's Michelangelo Signorile Show, Matt Foreman, outgoing director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, calls out Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) on his 'squeamishness' on the issue of transgender rights in the recent battle over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Foreman is leaving his post at the Task Force, that he has held for five years, to direct the Gay & Lesbian Program at the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

"Of the many things I've loved about being in the Task Force," says Foreman, "is that, you know, we're a progressive organization, and we're proud of it, and that we have a history of speaking the truth and seeing the world in a bigger way than just a 'gay-specific,' 'me-first-all-the-time' attitude that affects so much of our movement."

"I think what really happened," says Foreman of Congress' handling of employment discrimination protections for LGBT people, "is [Speaker Nancy Pelosi's] people said 'Look, Congress has a terrible reputation right now, they're not delivering for any progressive causes... What do we have to do to deliver to our progressive allies?' That means labor and health and environment and gays. And, so, I mean, I don't know this for a fact, but I would bet my life that this is what happened: They went to Barney Frank and said 'What do we need to pass ENDA?'"

"Representative Frank," continues Foreman, "who has always been pretty squeamish on the trans issue, and I guess I can say these things because I am leaving my job..."

"That's what we hoped you'd do," Signorile says to Foreman.

Foreman goes on: "...You know, said 'Look the best way to pass ENDA, and the easiest way is to -- let's take out gender identity,' and I don't think the Speaker's people thought this through--didn't think it through--and then they said 'OK, let's do it'."

A spokesman for Rep. Frank told PageOneQ the comments were "absurd," and that the Congressman is looking forward to appearing on Mr. Signorile's show later today, and to speaking with PageOneQ to address this issue."

In addition to the ENDA segment, Foreman chatted with Signorile about Creating Change, the state of the LGBT movement, the organization's 21st annual conference on LGBT Equality, the Hate Crimes law before Congress, and Foreman's new role at the Haas Fund.

Audio from Foreman's appearance is below. Signorile and Foreman's exchange begins at approximately four minutes into segment #3.

Segment #1

Segment #2

Segment #3 (ENDA segment)

Segment #4


Originally published on Thursday February 14, 2008.

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