On April 24, 2007 Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) did something he's done before, introduce a bill that would "prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender," HR 2015.
The "gender identity" language would help transgendered employees battle discrimination, but it's important for other reasons as well. Including "gender identity" is the only way to make sure sex discrimination laws, including sexual harassment laws, will apply to gays and lesbians. Courts previously have confined application of sexual harassment to different-sex scenarios. Stipulating that "gender identity" should not affect the interpretation of employment protections will protect men from sexual harassment from male bosses, and women from female bosses. Analyses by the LAMDA Legal Defense Fund also suggest that removing "gender identity" would allow employers to fire people on the basis of their being "too effeminate" or "too mannish."
On September 27, 2007, Rep. Frank did something that he appears not to have done before, introduce a competing bill that sells out gays and lesbians by removing the "gender identity" language, HR 3685.
The LGBT community is furious with Frank. According to an October 18, 2007 article in the Bay Area Reporter, "More than 200 LGBT groups around the nation have, in the past 10 days, signed onto a letter to House leaders asking them to 'oppose any substitute legislation that leaves part of our community behind.'"
The question is why did Rep. Frank do this? Frank's explanation: "We do not have the votes to pass the bill with transgender."
But no one who knows anything about Washington politics believes Frank. Indeed Frank himself admits that his proposed bill, even if it passes in both houses, will not become a law until a Democrat wins the presidency. So why is Frank really pushing Congress to pass a law that is being actively opposed by the constituencies in whose name he is acting?
Insiders have an explanation, and it's not a pretty one. According to a source who works with many of these LGBT groups, Frank and others are pressing Nancy Pelosi and Senate colleagues for a vote on a bill without "gender identity" protections at the insistence of presidential candidate and bully Senator Hillary Clinton. In exchange for helping her with this, word is that Frank's been assured a position in her administration.
Why would Hillary want this so badly? Getting the weakened bill on the Senate floor gives Clinton something she can vote for to bolster her substantively weak LGBT credentials and loosen some spare change and good will in the LGBT community. Getting Frank to lose the "gender identity" language in a bill that will not become law allows Clinton to appeal to the mainstream's sense of fairness in the workplace without allowing the Right to scare the general public by suggesting Clinton wants to protect fairies and other people with a gender imagination.
The most hopeful scenario in these cynical dealings is that perhaps after Clinton is elected and the Democrats have an even stronger grip on Congress, and perhaps after Frank receives a cabinet post and other muscle, the administration will push for a real bill that will be really signed, one that includes the "gender identity" language.