Tag Archive: Barney Frank

Thank You, Rob Andrews!

Almost lost amid all the noise and bustle here in NJ as the drama, the virtual acrid smell of large scale corruption and malfeasance surrounding the Christie Administration slowly intensifies, was the unexpected retirement of a champion of LGBT rights and most significantly transgender rights in Congress  which was abruptly announced on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.

Rob Andrews, the 12 term congressman from South Jersey, announced that he would resign from Congress and leave office on Feb 18 to lead the government relations practice of a Philadelphia law firm. Andrews was a Vice- Chair of the House LGBT Equality Caucus. It was in his role as Chair of the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Sub-Committee that he stepped up, kept his word to me and other Trans leaders and presided over the historic Congressional hearings, which, in my opinion, made it impossible for Democrats to forward an Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) that was not trans-inclusive!

A little history is in order.

Reps. Bella Abzug (D-NY) and Ed Koch (D-NY) introduced the Equality Act of 1974, which sought to ban discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals, unmarried persons, and women in employment, housing, and public accommodations . It was the first-ever national piece of proposed legislation that would end discrimination against gays and lesbians in the United States. It did not, however, include transgender people. Unfortunately, the Equality Act of 1974 never earned enough support to make it out of committee in the House, and it was never introduced in the Senate. Similar bills and efforts also failed in the late 1970s.

While the Equality Act of 1974 was broad, ENDA is narrowly focused on a single issue: employment discrimination. Lawmakers first introduced ENDA in 1994. That version of the law would have made it illegal to discriminate against employees in all aspects of employment based on a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation. Both the House and Senate versions of ENDA died in committee that year, a story that would be repeated for the next several years (though in 1996 ENDA received a floor vote in the Senate but failed by a one-vote margin). After 1996 a version of ENDA was introduced in every session of Congress except the 109th.

On April 24, 2007 members of Congress introduced HR 2015 the first version of ENDA that included discrimination prohibitions on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity. History will record that this inclusive version of ENDA died in Committee with 185 sponsors and that on September 27, 2007 prime sponsor Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) made a second attempt at moving the bill through, HR. 3685, this time without the provisions protecting transgender workers from discrimination (nicknamed SPLENDA for being a light version or imitation of the real bill).

On November 7, 2007 the House passed this non-inclusive ENDA by a vote of 235 to 184. The Senate version was never taken up or referred to a Committee, due to the exclusion of gender identity from Rep. Frank’s bill (We have to thank people like the late Senator Lautenberg of New Jersey who stated that he would only support an ENDA that was trans inclusive) and the acknowledged fact that President George W Bush had expressly stated that he would veto any ENDA bill thus making it an exercise in futility.

Let history show that by giving up on the inclusive ENDA, splitting the T from the LGB, a barely repaired schism within the LGBT community was re-opened, with HRC, the gay rights 800 pound gorilla abruptly reversing course from their own  stated public policy by standing with Barney Frank and Speaker Pelosi, while just about every other LGBT organization, led by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, rallied behind Tammy Baldwin to fight for transgender inclusion. Barney Frank then introducing two bills on the same day September 27, 2007, HR 3685 ENDA as it has historically existed, banning discrimination on sexual orientation and HR 3686 ENDA with transgender protections to that basic scheme. He stated, “Passing ENDA in part and then moving on to add transgender provisions when we can is clearly preferable”. The congressman from Massachusetts was saying, lets protect the gays and we will come right back for the transpeople “when we can”.

“When we can”, can be a long time!  For example, in 1989, Massachusetts prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in credit, public and private employment, union practices, housing, and public accommodations. 22 years later Massachusetts finally passed a law prohibiting discrimination for almost, but not all of the aforementioned categories. Maybe you can also sell transpeople a bridge?

Barney Frank envisioned that Congressman Andrew’s Education and Labor subcommittee would hold hearings on his transgender only bill HR3686 (which I will refer to as Barney’s GENDA)  to “focus exclusively on transgender issues, to give Members a chance to meet transgender people, to understand who they really are, and to deal with the fears that exist.”  But Barney’s GENDA was anathema to the transgender community.

Having a relationship with Rob Andrews, I was able to communicate the disappointment that we had for his support of the gay only ENDA and his sponsorship Barney’s GENDA. In fact, his New Jersey colleague Rush Holt, bucked Pelosi and Frank and voted against the bad ENDA! I stressed that we wanted and needed hearings to educate America about the rampant and widespread discrimination, and specific employment discrimination in our country but that those hearings could not be connected at all to HR3686 which in itself was created from the history of trans discrimination.

He “got it”, immediately. We next met in February 2008 at a “Hillary” Primary victory party at the Skylark Diner in Edison NJ where he confirmed all would be a “go”!  In fact, no mention was ever made of Barney’s GENDA at those hearings. The Republican ranking member did make an indirect reference to the legislation in a question, but that question was unanswered!

Rob kept his word and always made note with pride of the historical significance of those hearings in the summer of 2008.  Whenever I brought a group of transpeople to the Hill to lobby, Rob’s office was always a stop, not only to visit a friend, but to show our folks how comfortable and natural and genuinely interested he was in person when meeting with a diverse group of constituents.  He had many contacts on the “other” side of the aisle and was always willing to reach out to them for our legislation. I can’t help but wonder if he had been the Prime sponsor of ENDA in 2007 or even in 2009 if it would have been a done deal!

ENDA 2007 HR2015 was introduced April 24, 2007 with 59 sponsors. A week before I got a call from one of Barney’s senior aides that he had under 30 sponsors and wanted to go in with at least 60 in this first ever trans inclusive ENDA.  At the time I was on the Board of National Stonewall Democrats and we put our political folks into legislative advocate mode and brought in at least 20 more sponsors. In the middle of May, I traveled to DC to lobby for ENDA with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) as well as meeting up with a smaller group of advocates from NTAC (National Transgender Advocacy Coalition). It was a week of much LGBT activity in the Beltway … but amid all the enthusiasm was a sour note from some of the NTAC folks … news that the Democratic Black Caucus would not support the trans inclusive ENDA. Ironically, a similar message from two entirely different sources, both sworn to secrecy, came to me the next day.  OK, I said to myself, you know that there is a problem… go out and address it. Fix it! You’ve got HRC and all the other organizations, you’ve got the resources … you know there is a problem … do it!

In early September, Joe Solmonese, President of HRC, addressed participants at Southern Comfort , perhaps the largest transgender conference in America, explicitly telling those gathered that HRC would not support a non-inclusive ENDA. Within 2 weeks HRC flipped and supported the gay only version. My words to describe the events are not for publication.

I’m going to end this blog on a positive note.

First Congressman Andrew’s Historic Hearings in 2008



See the 4:30 mark at    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

After Chairman Andrews acknowledges our Jersey group, he goes after the Harvard educated lawyer who represents the religious haters and utterly destroys his legal arguments … it is so sweet watching him at work!

NJ’s late Congressman Donald Payne had made some remarks after voting for the Non inclusive ENDA in Nov 2007 that upset many of us in the trans community.  Garden State Equality objected and Chair Steven Goldstein, myself as Vice-Chair, and a small group of Trans Board Members and supporters met with him to educate and explain. He certainly understood discrimination and he quickly “got it”.

See the 6:00 mark, Cong Payne sees me and remarks that I had “harassed” him with a smile.


The odds on favorite to win Andrews’ seat in the next election is current State Senator Donald Norcross. NJ’s Congressional District #1 is heavily Democratic and Sen Norcross has already been endorsed by almost all the South Jersey politicos, labor leaders, our new Speaker as well as U.S. Senator Cory Booker.  Donald will have big shoes to fill, but based on a brief talk with him, I’m encouraged that he can and we will encourage him to try and succeed.

Meanwhile to Congressman Rob Andrews, the Trans community says, “Thank you!”

A Congressman From New Jersey Retires

It’d be nice if it were a Congressman serving in New Jersey, but it’s not.  Bayonne’s own Barney Frank, who has served 17 years as a Congressman from Massachusetts, announced today he will not seek reelection. It appears that the redistricting put him in a tougher race than the 71 year old liberal stalwart wanted to run.

He will be missed in the halls of Congress, but lets hope his voice is not silenced.

Who’s going to get VIP face-time with Barney Frank & Ed Potosnak?

Want to spend an evening hanging out with Barney Frank?

As we wrote last month, Barney Frank is headlining Ed Potosnak’s first fundraiser in his return effort to capture the NJ-7 spot in the House from the GOP’s more and more obedient Leonard Lance.

Frank, witty, razor sharp and tough as nails, is one of the best orators in the House. And one of the most important LGBT politicians in the country, at a time when more openly gay leaders are following his lead into elective politics. Potosnak is among them.

Frank will be joining Potosnak this Saturday night for a funder at a private home in Warren, Somerset County. You’ll see some fellow Blue Jerseyans there. Tickets are $100, and one lucky sport who orders one between now and one-minute-before-midnight tonight, will win a VIP ticket for the event (couples ordering 2 tix before deadline will be entered to win a pair of tickets to the reception). More details here.  

Thousands of NJ-7 Seniors at Risk Under GOP Plan

promoted by Rosi

A new analysis by the House Commerce Committee provides District by District information on the impact of Republican Medicare Plan and Medicaid cuts, illuminating the disastrous impact of the Ryan Budget supported by my opponent right here in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District.

Congressman Leonard Lance supported the Ryan budget, which ends Medicare as we know it, turning Medicare into a voucher program.

Here is the impact, by the numbers on NJ-7’s CD directly from the analysis:

  • Reduce coverage for 8,400-dual eligible seniors and individuals with disabilities.

  • Jeopardize nursing home care for 1,800

  • Impair the healthcare of 13,000 children (including 400 newborns)

  • Cut payments for Emergency Room visits for 5,000 patients

  • Cut payments to hospitals for 1,500 inpatient visits

Medicaid assistance under the Ryan Plan cuts an average of $13,000 per enrollee over the next decade, putting seniors and persons with disabilities at risk.

This analysis is aligned with the report from May by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), which estimated that a typical 65-year-old Medicare beneficiary in 2022 would see their out-of-pocket health care costs increase from $6,154 to $12,513 under the Republican budget.

If the Ryan plan to turn Medicare into an inadequate voucher program, for which Congressman Lance voted, were to be signed into law, seniors across America would face bleak economic prospects. But with the exception of Florida, there is no state more disastrously impacted than right here in New Jersey. Congressman Lance has seen these numbers and well knows that by 2022 out of pocket expenses for the typical 65-year old enrollee in New Jersey would jump from $6,832.43 to $13,892.47, the second biggest increase in America ($7,060.03).

I’ll fight against that ever being enacted every day I’m in office.

Please help me in fighting for our Seniors and standing up to the GOP’s Budget by joining Congressman Barney Frank at an event supporting my 2012 campaign for Congress on June 18th in Warren, Somerset County, NJ.  RSVP Today.

Ed Potosnak declares in NJ-7 2012 race, Barney Frank headlines first funder

Ed Potosnak, who got 40% in his 2010 race against first-time GOP incumbent Leonard Lance, has filed with the FEC to run again in 2012. Former Edison mayor Jun Choi announced his intention to run a few days ago. New Jersey loses a congressional district in this cycle, but of course we don’t know which one, and NJ-7 has lost fewer constituents than some of the northern congressional districts. So, it’s full steam ahead, and I’m glad to see Potosnak run again, and start early.

Barney Frank is a great get for Potosnak’s first funder (June 18 in Somerset County). I’ve seen him speak, and he’s red meat for sharp Democrats. Frank’s the House architect of the law that created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He fought for Elizabeth Warren to run it. Now both the new bureau and Warren are is Kryptonite to Senate Republicans Barney Frank definitely doesn’t pull his punches or suffer fools gladly. He’s famous for his toughness. He is also one of the most well-known gay politicians in the country, and Ed Potosnak is a progressive Democrat who is also out.

You can argue that a race against Lance is not only easier if you’ve run one before here, but also easier this time around because Lance, something of a GOP maverick in the NJ legislature, has become a disappointing Party sycophant sliding to the right in a CD that may be less tolerant of it, and less invested in him than some of my Hunterdon neighbors still are.  

Garrett shocked to see his amendment pass

Congressman Scott Garrett was surprised the other day when in a committee meeting, Barney Frank unexpectedly decided to support Garrett’s amendment that would reduce the power of rating agencies by requiring all federal agencies to remove any references to them in all regulation. Here’s how it went down and check out Garrett’s reaction:

But Garrett’s office wasn’t expecting the amendment to pass – Republican staffers on both the House and Senate sides told me last week that their Democratic counterparts told them, privately, not to expect any Republican amendments to pass. But Garrett was in for a shock when Frank interrupted him 30 seconds into his introduction of the amendment to declare that he would support it. After taking a quick voice vote, Frank declared that the ayes had prevailed. “I have some more amendments if you’d like to do them that way,” Garrett joked.

That’s probably why they didn’t tell Garrett in advance, because they knew he’d have more amendments.

Sunscreen, deck chairs, and political illiteracy – the Kill the Bill Rally in D.C.

I was in D.C. yesterday at the Code Red Rally to Kill the Bill on Capitol Hill. You’ve already heard the most egregious news:

Kill the Bill Rally sign (Tea Party) March 2010 in D.C.

Congressmen John Lewis called a nigger.

Congressman Barney Frank called a faggot.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver spat on.

An afternoon in the sun with my overwrought, but politically/historically illiterate, countrymen is an eye-opener. Reasonable arguments can be made against this bill – from both sides – but I heard none of them yesterday. What I heard convinced me more that the Tea Party, out in force in our nation’s capital, is likely to do more harm to the GOP than it may do to us. From a civic perspective, I have to like that the Tea Party brings out masses previously disengaged, but as yet they haven’t moved beyond fist-waving. They generate noise, but so does a tantruming 3-year-old, with as much historical perspective.

We encountered mostly non-voters (I asked) who wanted to “take over” Congress with no recognition of the irony that they already have the power to do that, but fail to exercise it. The rhetoric was 100% spewage from Glenn Beck in a universe where talk show hosts are deemed 100% credible.

These people simply didn’t know stuff. Old guys on Medicare “horrified” at government health care. A lady: this “takes away my Medicare.” Her friend: “no, it means we have to take Medicare whether we want to or not.” Reconciliation demonized, but eyes glaze with the news that all major changes in health care in 3 decades came via reconciliation … and Republicans use it too.

Tea Party tries to liberate

Rayburn Office Bldg. (click to enlarge)

Tea Party tries to liberate Rayburn House Office Building After a couple hours rallyers were supposed to lobby. But it was a nice day, and lobbying’s not fun like a lawn party. So, as conservative star power like Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), Mike Pence (R-Indiana), Tom Price (R-Georgia) and Marcia Blackburn (R-TN), and a coiffed, shiny Jon Voight moved among adoring white people, rallyers re-applied sunscreen and looked for trouble.  A mob tried to liberate the Rayburn House Office Building, bewildered as to why Capitol Police denied them overtake of the building.

Barney Frank is a Jersey Guy!

I had no idea that the great Congressman from Massachusetts was actually a Jersey Guy from Bayonne.  How cool is that?

Frank’s support for the poor can partly be traced to his childhood in Bayonne, New Jersey, a working-class industrial town that was also home to the boxer Chuck Wepner, the inspiration for the movie Rocky who was known as the “Bayonne Bleeder.” In Frank’s youth, it was a place dominated by Italian, Irish and Polish immigrants.

“I thought I’d be a lawyer,” Frank says. “I was always into politics, but I thought that being both Jewish and gay meant that I would probably never be able to be elected to anything.”

Yeah, well.  He was elected and became a great progressive champion.  Great job, New Jersey!

Watch Barney Frank Crush Scott Garrett!!!

Normally, I don’t laugh out loud while watching the news.

Last night’s News Hour was an exception.  

The discussion led by Ray Suarez came around to a mini debate with Barney Frank on one side and “our own” Scott Garrett on the other.

Putting aside, for the moment, any of the substance of the topic it was quite amusing to see Garrett get rhetorically/intellectually gutted by Frank.

I just loved seeing Scotty squirm and grimace and actually be reduced to  nervously twiddling his thumbs as Barney’s blarney blasted him away!!!   I wish I could embed it on site but you’ll have to click here and then hit “streaming video” to see for yourself.

Employment Non-discrimination Act, an update

“There is no question that discrimination based on sexual orientation is occurring in the workplace.  Like all forms of discrimination, it is wrong and it is our goal today to examine a solution,” — Rep. Rob Andrews

New Jersey is one of only nineteen states where it’s illegal to fire someone because they are gay.  (Likewise it’s verboten to refuse employment based on sexuality.)  Tran-folk have even less protection, with only ten other states besides New Jersey extending similar protections.  Good news for us, bad news for (most of) the rest of America.

Those stats underscore the timeliness of today’s Employment Non-discrimination Act (“EDNA”) hearings in the House Labor and Employment subcommittee, chaired by our own Rep. Rob Andrews.

(For those of you who don’t remember, Rep Andrews was steadfast on making workplace protections for GLBTs a top Federal priority in a podcast   with Blue Jersey just weeks before last November’s election. 

If the Democrats take the house, Andrews promised, gays and lesbians in the rest of the nation should expect similar job security as their New Jersey counterparts.)

I’m comfortable predicting that there is more than just symbolic importance to the ENDA issue being taken up on the first day Congress is back in session after a break.  After being thrown under the bus for the last 6 years or so, GLTBs deserve to be a priority for a minute.  Right?

I wasn’t able to catch the live stream of the ENDA hearings but the folks over at the Human Rights Campaign’s (the other HRC) blogsite offer some boots-on-the-ground play play and more importantly: reaction afterwards.  Real. Good. Stuff.

The hearings were highlighted by testimony from two of Andrews’s House colleagues, Barney Frank (ENDA’s primary sponsor)  and Tammy Baldwin who –by the way — both happen to be gay.  Also on hand with a powerful message was Michael Carney, a cop from Frank’s homestate of Massachusetts.  His story is proof positive that jeeez, it’s 2oo7 already, no one should have to stay in the closet to get (or keep) a job!

It’s a good feeling to finally see this issue getting some play.  After all, as Andrews pointed out afterwards “ENDA is a bill about fairness and access to equal opportunity.”  What’s not to love about a sentiment like that?

But this is just the beginning.  Since bills can take ages to wind their way through the sausage-making process, it’s entirely possible that this issue will still be live after ‘o8 election. 

All the more reason we need to work our fannies off to flip a few Congressional seats next time around!

(I’m just sayin’….)