February 19, 2008
Barney not squeamish about Foreman
Posted by: Chris
Remember when Matt Foreman, the outgoing director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, suggested that Barney Frank backed a gay-only version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because the openly gay Massachusetts congressman has always been "sqeamish" about transgender rights?
Well Barney has fired back, asking to appear on Mike Signorile's Sirius radio show, the same forum as Foreman's, and the pugnacious pol pulled no punches, saying Foreman "made up the whole thing."
I know he said he didn't know that that happened [with ENDA], that he'd bet his life –- or that he would bet his life -- on it. Frankly, I think it's a good thing he didn't bet his life or he might have lost that in addition to his job. He just made that up. That is not remotely how it happened. …
He also has no basis for talking about my attitude on transgender people because I've had one set of conversations with Matt Foreman about transgender people.
Instead, Barney said, Foreman was "protecting his own ass," deflecting attention from how, when he was director of Empire State Pride Agenda, Foreman endorsed Republican Gov. George Pataki's reelection in a deal to pass a gay-only civil rights law, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act:
"Well," responds Rep. Frank, "you like people to talk bluntly, let me talk bluntly: He's just trying to cover his ass." … Frank continued by reiterating his disappointment in Foreman's group and its endorsement of Pataki, saying "he endorsed the Republican over the African American Democrat, a very significant mistake in my judgment from the standpoint of in our coalition building."
"The notion that I was squeamish is based on the fact that he was squeamish," Frank continued. "I don't know what he went through and it's not of any great interest to me."
I love it when Barney gets fiesty like this, although it always reminds me of those occasions when I was the direct recipient -- usually one-on-one. I also think Barney is mostly dead-on here. Matt Foreman has talked about the SONDA story and how he regrets the strategy employed there, even though it resulted in the passage of historic gay rights legislation.
But in doing so Foreman has sounded very much like the born again Christian or former smoker who careens from one end of the spectrum to another, from black to white (or vice-versa), never acknowledging either before or after the gray that makes reasonable people differ. In the case of ENDA, Foreman and trans activists insultingly charge that failure to adhere to their trans-or-bust view is the result of bigotry in the form of transphobia.
It's a lazy, offensive and patronizing argument, and apparently Foreman will keep on making on the way out the door.
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