Is Dropping Transgender Protections The Only Way to Get Republicans On Board With ENDA?

Republicans are totally harshing on Rep. Barney Frank’s attempt to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through Congress. They’re all, “Transgender rights take this thing too far,” and are saying they’re only going to back the bill if Frank & Co. strip out the Ts from the bill. Which Frank agreed to do last time, but the bill never made it through the Senate. So what happens now that Republicans are only promising (tepid) support if trans employees are told to suck it?

Oh, how we’ve been here before. It wasn’t so long ago (2008) even Joe Solmonese at the Human Rights Campaign was backing a transgender-free ENDA, only to realize a year later what a dumbass call that was. But you can bet Solmonese and policy director David Smith, as well as the queers at NGLTF and NCLR are going to feel pressure from some to get behind any ENDA bill, even if it means leaving transgender brothers and sisters behind. (You cannot underestimate the influence major donors wield over strategy decisions at Gay Inc. groups.)

Frank says he’s not caving, so that’s some good news. But even with 202 cosponsors for his bill, which would cover companies with 15+ employees, ENDA needs some Republican support. And that means convincing conservative lawmakers to cross groups like the American Family Association and Traditional Values Coalition — hate groups that evidently put more fear in Republican lawmakers than gay activists do in Democratic ones. Just don’t count on Rep. Steven King.