Thursday, October 11, 2007

Barney Frank's House Floor Speech on ENDA

This is a provocative excerpt from Barney Frank's floor speech on ENDA. What do you think?

Now, this is the issue: Does a political party say to its most militant, committed, ideologically driven believers in purity that they have a veto over what the party does? And I say that procedurally because substantively I agree with them. I have spoken on this floor and in committee for including people of transgender. I have argued that with my colleagues in private. I have argued that with the Democratic Caucus. But I also believe that I have a broader set of responsibilities than to any one group and my job is to advance the moral values that I came here to advance as far and as fast as I can and not voluntarily to withhold an advance because it doesn't meet somebody's view of perfection. And the question is, how do we relate to those people? And it has become an increasing problem for both parties.

Frankly, until recently I have felt that one of the advantages we Democrats have had over our Republican colleagues is that we were more willing to be responsible, less susceptible to the most committed minority of our party having a veto. I think from the days of Terri Schiavo and before and since, the Republican Party has suffered from that. I don't want the Democratic Party to suffer from it. Not because I want to protect the Democratic Party as an end in itself, but because the Democratic Party is the means by which these values I care about are most likely to be advanced.

And let me talk about this ideological faction that we have. There are some characteristics that they have that I think led them to this profoundly mistaken view that the greatest single advance we can make in civil rights in many, many years would somehow be a bad thing because it would only include millions of people and leave some hundreds of thousands out. And I want to include those hundreds of thousands. I have done more to try to include them than many of the people who say we should kill the whole thing, but I don't understand how killing the whole thing advances that.

Read the entire speech here.

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