Chad Griffin’s one of those people whose political judgment seems to be off. The fact is that HRC and I and everybody else were for an inclusive bill in 2007. The issue was we did not have the votes for an inclusive bill. It wasn’t a failure of will. Then the question was, was something better than nothing? Was it better to pass a bill that was protective of lesbian, gay and bisexual people or pass nothing? We tried very hard.
People have this mistaken view of the civil rights movement and say, ‘Well the black people never compromised, they got the whole thing.’ that is just silly nonsense. The first civil rights bill that was passed in ’57 was fairly moderate but it had some good things, and then one passed in ’60, and then one passed in ’64. People are now saying, ‘Well we don’t want ENDA to be just about employment, we want it cover housing, etc.” Well that national federal civil rights bill that Lyndon Johnson signed in 1964 that we’re all celebrating today didn’t include housing! Housing didn’t come until a separate bill was passed after Martin Luther King was murdered in 1968. The notion that you can win your entire victory at once is historically and politically flawed.
The transgender community had this mistaken view that if Nancy Pelosi waved a magic wand, transgender would be included. And we were insisting to them that, look we don’t have the votes, help us lobby. Instead of trying to put pressure on the people who were against them, they thought they could just insist that we do it. We said, ‘We’re trying, but we need your help.’
It’s also the case that in 2007, transgender made people a lot of people nervous, they didn’t know about it. Since then there’s been a lot of success in educating the public in general, politicians in particular. I don’t know what Griffin said, but he was not a factor when we were doing it. And by the way, when we were trying to get the votes to pass a bill including transgender, transgender people were not included in the anti-discrimination bills in New York, Massachusetts and Maryland. And I asked people, ‘If we haven’t got the votes in those states, why do you think it will be easier when we throw in South Carolina, Texas and Nebraska?’
And Chad Griffin was one of the people in California who were arguing that the way to get marriage was, ‘Well we shouldn’t have to go state-by-state, we should just get one big national decision.’ Well they were wrong! The Supreme Court did not decide in favor of same-sex marriage in Prop 8. Neither did the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The DOMA case was the big case. Now because so many states have had it, I think we will win a Supreme Court decision, but the Supreme Court wasn’t going to do that out front. They’re building on the state-by-state experience.”
— Barney Frankin an interview with The Georgia Voice, in which he discussed HRC president Chad Griffin’s recent controversial apology to transgender people for failing to properly represent them