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It’s Time to Stop Attacking HRC

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin

Timothy Kincaid

July 26th, 2008

hrc-logo.gifI am not an unequivocal supporter of the Human Rights Campaign. I believe that they have on many occasions confused partisan positioning with what’s best for gay people and have made judgment errors and poor priority choices.

But they are also the largest and most important lobbyist for the rights, freedoms, and interests of the gay community. Without the work that HRC does on a regular basis, we would be in far greater danger of losing the measure of equality that we have fought so long and so hard to win.

HRC is under attack by some who claim membership in our community.

Last year, HRC decided that they would pursue the tactic of seeking a Federal employment non-discrimination law that included gay and lesbian persons, but which did not provide gender identity protections. Their analysis showed that a bill including protections for transgendered persons would not have adequate support so they supported a version of ENDA in which that provision had been eliminated.

This angered many transgendered persons as well as some others in the gay community who felt that a portion of the community had been abandoned and betrayed. HRC tried to explain that this was not an indication that they would not continue to fight for transgender inclusive legislation, but that an incremental approach was likelier to succeed.

While this did not appease those who were angry with HRC, a great many gay people could not understand the rationale of allowing gay men and lesbians to continue to live under the threat of being fired or evicted until such point in the future when a more inclusive bill might have adequate political support. But the pro-T allies put pressure on those members of Congress who are generally gay supporters and the efforts to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination failed.

I don’t fault those who disagreed with HRC’s decision. And if individuals feel that their contributions are best utilized elsewhere, I can hardly complain.

But I cannot support the extent to which this has gone.

Though they succeeded in derailing ENDA, those angry at HRC were not content. They are now seeking to hurt HRC’s fundraising abilities. They have begun protesting at fundraisers and today they are holding a “counterparty” to draw attendance away from an event that HRC is hosting in San Francisco. And they have announced that they have sabotaged HRC’s event.

several San Francisco local elected officials announced their decision to boycott the HRC fundraising dinner. Most notably, slated dinner keynote Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has decided to cancel his speech after pressure from local labor and LGBT leaders.

Frankly, I’m not sure I believe them. But if it’s true that Villaraigosa has pulled out, I don’t see what that has accomplished.

And their activism has hurt not only HRC, but also the efforts to keep marriage legal in California.

When ordering tickets, all dinner guests will be given the option to designate up to 100 percent of the fee to the HRC California Marriage PAC. The PAC was established to fight against the anti-marriage ballot initiative. Proceeds from the dinner are part of the recent $500,000 pledge by HRC.

The “queer progressive organizations” that are hosting the counterparty have not explained how harming HRC will benefit the community. They have no plan in place to make up for HRC’s efforts to fight for marriage. These “economic leftists” are only dancing in glee that they may have hurt someone that they think slighted them.

And their timing could not be worse.

The battle over marriage, particularly in California, may be the most important battle that our community will fight in decades. Donald Wildmon, head of the viciously homophobic American Family Association, has admitted that our community’s efforts to hold on to our right to marry may be a turning point in our community’s quest for equality.

“If we lose California, if they defeat the marriage amendment, I’m afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost,” says Wildmon, a 30-year veteran of the culture war. “I’ve never said that publicly until now — but that’s just the reality of the fact.”

And efforts to cripple our largest gay organization at this time are the last thing we need. Whether you supported an incremental ENDA plan or you thought HRC’s approach was a betrayal, we must step beyond that decision and create a united and powerful voice for our cause.

We need to be strong in fighting against homophobia in California, Arizona and Florida. And following the presidential election we will need to have a powerful lobby to approach the next administration, one that is not crippled by the petty bitterness of those who selfishly think that if they don’t get to pick the strategy then all gay people should be forced to pay.

UPDATE: The Associated Press is now reporting that Mayor Villaraigosa has pulled out of the fundraiser to oppose the anti-gay marriage amendment.

Comments

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larry
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

I agree with Mr. Kincaid. Now is not the time for a circular firing squad in the LGBT community. The counter-party folks ignore the fact that civil rights advances are not a zero-sum, all-or-nothing fight. We put one foot in front of the other until we’re all there. A step forward for ‘LG’s is not a step backward for ‘BT’s.

Patrick ONeill
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

Actually I have declined to renew my HRC membership and won’t until Joe Solomonese is gone.

It wasn’t just the ENDA debacle – that was just the last straw – I see the HRC as mealymouthed and almost totally ineffective.

Actually during the ENDA it became COUNTER-productive, diving us amongst ourselves, and harming our movement.

In the meantime it is quite easy to contribute and support organizations like equality arizona and eqca where you are more likely to see your money go into the ballot fights instead of celebrity dinners and tie tacs

Lambda Legal is a great organization to support

Jaft
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

Well-said and keen-eyed.

Patrick ONeill
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

P.S. – Any idea how much HRC has pledged to support our ballot fight here in AZ ?

Because we’ve sure sent them money.

a. mcewen
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

All I can say Timothy is amen!!!

I find it sad that we can fight each other with the intense fervor that we should be saving for the anti-gay industry.

Meanwhile they try to control the argument and the same ones pushing for us to fight amongst ourselves throw up their hands and say “oh well, no one cares.”

Michael Ditto
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

I actually disagree. While there are fine people involved in HRC, they have thrown the community under the bus too many times.

In 2006, they took a couple hundred thousand dollars out of Colorado at their fundraiser, and they put almost nothing back in the state to support the domestic partnership referendum or to oppose the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. And that was after they publicly committed $100,000 to the effort (less than half of what they raised, but still not insignificant).

In the end, Secretary of State reports show that HRC contributed a grand total of $408 to the effort. That is a crime.

JJ in Chicago
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

Well said, Tim. Well said. Bravo.

There’s a sour grapes attitude among many (not all) in the trans movement– and it needs to end NOW.

I do believe there is an attempt to thwart any forward movement by the gay and lesbian community, now that trans folks know that we have the votes for a sexual orientation ENDA and will move forward. (And we will move forward, and they will fail at stopping it.)

Trans folks need to stop licking their wounds, put the band-aid on, and move forward.

The chronic anger, the wallowing in self-pity and the obsessive, visceral hatred of HRC by so many in the trans community are indicative of a movement that is quite immature. By “immature” I mean an overall movement that is not savvy, is overly sensitive, militant, very passive/aggressive, and does not understand how Congress passes legislation in Washington. Certainly there are many trans folks who are quite savvy and understand the big picture. I know that.

Trans activists rightfully argue that their community is small in comparison to the gay/lesbian community, and they need our help and support. Very true.

But that’s all the more reason NOT to burn bridges in the gay community! And that’s precisely what’s happening!

I’m going out a limb here and express my theory on the root cause. Again, my opinion:

The fusing of the two movements (which I always opposed) created a sense of dependency and caused people to become very complacent.

The gay and lesbian non-profits were enablers. They caved into demands in the early 1990′s to fuse the two movements. And yes, it was done out of political expedience: The non-profits thought they could get 2 for the price of 1 in ENDA. And they were WRONG.

Furthermore, they had no contingency plan in place to address a split vote where sexual orientation has the votes but gender identity does not– other than whining about a so-called “watered down” ENDA. It’s called poor planning.

Certainly there are dedicated trans activists who worked very hard and were on the front lines. But in the end, I believe they could have done a better job LOBBYING ON THEIR OWN with us as allies, than expecting to coast to victory riding on the shoulders of the non-profits.

I hope the mainstream, sensible trans folks can contain their more militant members with their “screw you, I’ll do whatever I want” attitude.

(And protesting HRC events in age-inappropriate clothing, fishnet stockings and 5 inch stiletto heels doesn’t help their cause either.)

In the end, they’re slitting their own wrists and setting their movement back.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

L. Junius Brutus
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

You’re right. As a matter of fact, I can’t understand why transgenders are included in our community at all. I’m sympathetic to their calls for equality, however, they have absolutely nothing to do with gay and lesbian rights. To insist upon their inclusion when an ‘inclusive’ bill can’t pass is to set back our cause for years, while not helping anyone. If African-American leaders had insisted upon our inclusion in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it would never have passed, without helping even a single gay person. How is that for progress? Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi are absolutely right, it’s better to get 95% of what you want than 0%. You can always return for the rest. That’s how you get things done.

And what these groups are doing is absolutely crazy. But it’s always easier to tear people down, than to actually do something constructive. It’s very easy for gays in California to oppose the current ENDA, as they are fully protected under California law. I wonder how gays in Missisippi and other states feel about throwing a hissy fit.

Sportin' Life
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

HRC’s setting of expectations around ENDA is one of the symptoms, but I think the real problem is the overall ineffectiveness of a gay rights strategy based in Washington. I certainly encourage everyone to put time and money into California, but HRC is neither the leader of nor a major player in that fight.

And that’s the thing. All the really important battles are at the state level and require local, grassroots organizing and community building–not the lobbying of DC politicians. It’s a question of where to put our financial resources. We’ve been putting them all into the pockets of Democratic Congresspeople, and have little to show for it.

I agree, though, that actually putting effort into undermining and sabotaging HRC is misguided.

L. Junius Brutus
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

“Actually during the ENDA it became COUNTER-productive, diving us amongst ourselves, and harming our movement.”

Get a hold of yourself. No offense. But how big do you think that ‘the movement’ is? At most, 5% of the population, and most of them are NOT activists. I saw people talk about how what HRC did has divided ‘the movement’ and that a bill can’t pass without the support of ‘the movement’. Guess what? It failed because it probably couldn’t get 60 votes in the Senate. What matters is what the straight majority is willing to support. The unity and support of ‘the movement’ is largely irrelevant.

And if you believe that division is such a bad thing, HRC is not the one to blame. The activists who are actively seeking to tear us apart are wholly responsible for that. Most prominent among them, Matt Foreman, who, during his own tenure as chairman of the New York-based gay rights group passed a bill that only protected gays. Rank hypocrisy and self-aggrandizement, in my opinion. I’m glad that he’s gone, although his successor is probably no better.

Richard W. Fitch
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

Just one minor observation, HCR, like PFLAG, is among the few LGBT organizations that has attracted the active support of people who are in the mainstream – church leaders, politicians, other social activists. To alienate these people is a great hazard to the whole cause. There will never be 100% unanimity regarding the decisions in any group, but HRC is to be commended for their attempts to negotiate in the face of great opposition.
-rwf – Indianapolis

Johno
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

“I can’t understand why transgenders are included in our community at all.”

That’s absurd. Gender identity and sexual orientation overlap constantly in our community, maybe not for you, but it is myopic not to recognize that.
Furthermore the missing language in the bill that was defeated, exposes effeminate gay men and butch lesbians to just as much discrimination as transgender persons: it was a worthless bill.

I strongly disagree with blaming it’s failure on those who would attack the HRC: the bill had no hope of succeeding past a veto in the first place; its only benefit was to shore up votes for a mythical future bill that might pass under a Democrat president.
It’s simply wrong to lay the blame for it at the feet of those who supported T-inclusivness, and not at the feet of those who wouldn’t vote for it or sign it in the first place.
Both Democrat presidential nominees, Obama and Clinton, came out against the bill, and both said publicly that they would sign an inclusive one. Yet the HRC still wouldn’t support it. They were the ONLY major gay rights org that didn’t. What does that tell you?

revtj
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

I am conflicted on this issue. I believe HRC has become a corporation, has lost touch with the mainstream of LGBT peoples, and I think the queer progressives who are badgering them should be heard and not shut out.

I also respect the many years of excellent work HRC has done for our community. When I first came out and for some years after that, HRC was all there was.

I would like to see this controversy change HRC for the good — I definitely do not want it to put them out of business. But HRC will HAVE TO DIALOGUE WITH THEIR DETRACTORS instead of snubbing them in order for the good to emerge. That requires wise leadership that can step out of the CEO model and get real.

L. Junius Brutus
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

‘That’s absurd. Gender identity and sexual orientation overlap constantly in our community, maybe not for you, but it is myopic not to recognize that.’

In principle, there is no connection between sexual orientation and gender identity. The overlap may be that we are both despised by society, but that’s about it. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends, but it is does mean that we shouldn’t confuse the issue by trying to make it one.

‘Furthermore the missing language in the bill that was defeated, exposes effeminate gay men and butch lesbians to just as much discrimination as transgender persons: it was a worthless bill.’

Absolute nonsense that has been debunked numerous times over. Many states have enacted sexual orientation-only laws, and mysteriously, none of them have the problem that you describe. Could it be that it was made up to undermine ENDA?

‘It’s simply wrong to lay the blame for it at the feet of those who supported T-inclusivness, and not at the feet of those who wouldn’t vote for it or sign it in the first place.’

Of course. That goes without saying. But I expect the fundamentalists to try to undermine gay equality. I do not expect to see that from the people who have sought to undermine ENDA and HRC. So I think that they definitely deserve blame for undermining ENDA and HRC.

‘Both Democrat presidential nominees, Obama and Clinton, came out against the bill, and both said publicly that they would sign an inclusive one. Yet the HRC still wouldn’t support it. They were the ONLY major gay rights org that didn’t. What does that tell you?’

Obama and Clinton did not come out against the bill. Perhaps you mean that they said they support a bill that would include transgenders. That doesn’t mean that they oppose a bill that doesn’t, merely that they prefer one that does. And as you should know, HRC did everything it could to support one that did include transgenders. You’re taking issue with the fact that they supported the ENDA that did pass the House (incidentally, the only ENDA that could pass the House).

What does it tell me? It tells me that HRC is sensible. And that they know politics.

Johno
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

“The overlap may be that we are both despised by society, but that’s about it.”

Are you joking?? I’m sorry but that is simply completely false. There are huge numbers of gays and lesbians who crossdress or are genderqueer. There are huge numbers of t-folk who identify as gay or lesbian both before and after transitioning.
The missing language in the bill is not nonsense; anti-gay activists threatened to use it as a loophole.

Both Obama and Clinton most certainly said they would NOT sign a T-less ENDA, in no uncertain terms. How else would you define being against it? Look it up on PHB for yourself, there are many articles about it with direct quotes.

What it tells me is that revtj is correct. HRC has succumbed to other interests: namely sharing in Barney Frank’s glory for a hollow victory.
Just two days ago HRC took credit for Mars pulling the Snickers ad after a huge letter-writing campaign that had nothing to do with them: it’s what they do now, and it needs to change if they want a future or be respected for their past.
They are the ones who needlessly planted an ax straight down the middle of the gay community that didn’t need to be there, and until they rectify that, the schism will continue to exist; there are so many people much angrier about it than me, who aren’t going to simply evaporate.

KipEsquire
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

I have no horse in this race, except to note that anyone who thinks that HRC has done more for gay rights than Lambda Legal is too hopelessly ignorant to warrant my attention.

Having said that, it seems to me that the 2008 argument that “we can’t abandon HRC now because so much is at stake” sounds far too eerily and creepily similar to the 2004 argument that “we can’t abandon George W. Bush now because so much is at stake.”

Nonsense then, nonsense now.

JJ in Chicago
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

Johno: “Furthermore the missing language in the bill that was defeated, exposes effeminate gay men and butch lesbians to just as much discrimination as transgender persons: it was a worthless bill.”

No Johno. That’s completely wrong.

That’s another talking point from the all-or-nothing crowd. It’s one last gasp at saying, “See, you need us as part of your movement.” (No, actually we don’t).

Laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation are solid.

Lambda Legal made the same outrageous statement. They knew better and it came back to bite them.

Barney Frank challenged them to provide data on the cases of discrimination where it had to do with a butch woman or effeminate man– as opposed to their sexual orientation.

Lambda Legal came up with one.

Just one. That’s it. And it was a dubious one at that.

Think what you’re saying. That’s equivalent to saying all the gay rights bills in the various states have no teeth without gender identity.

That’s pure hogwash. And there’s data to show it.

What about corporate America’s diversity policies? Are they worthless without gender identity? Come on.

Still not convinced? Think about this: There are cities and counties around the country adding sexual orientation all the time. There’s no trans activists arguing that those laws and ordinances are worthless. They know it’s a lie.

Side note: what they’re really referring to is “gender non-conformity”, not gender identity.

As correctly noted, sexual orientation and gender identity are two completely different things. (There are plenty of trans people who are the first to say, “Hey, we’re not gay!”)

Blurring sexual orientation and gender identity into one “gender queer” category is what the all-or-nothing-crowd wants, and it is a recipe for failure, legislatively.

This is what happens when left-wing whack-o activists in San Francisco, New York and Washington go unchallenged.

Luckily, they’ve been stopped in their tracks.

JJ in Chicago
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

I should mention through all of this that I do support a trans-inclusive ENDA and have written my congressman saying so. However, I also wrote that he should support whichever version of ENDA has the votes to pass.

Something else worth mentioning:

So many of the trans activists want us to lobby on their behalf, as they say we are one “LGBT” community.

I don’t agree that we are one community, but OK fine.

Then the lobbying works both ways, right?

How much lobbying are transgendered people doing on behalf of gay men and lesbians?

(No cheating now. Trans board members on state and national non-profits don’t count. I mean private citizens.)

How many trans folks are lobbying to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell??

How many trans folks are lobbying to end a relic of the Anita Bryant era– Florida’s complete ban on gay men and lesbians to adopt children??

Very few, if any. That’s because it’s not their issue.

Yet they want us to lobby on behalf of a trans-inclusive ENDA and accept ONLY a trans-inclusive ENDA.

What an arrogant self-righteous sense of entitlement.

NG
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

L. Junius Brutus,

Those transgenders you don’t understand are the ones who got beat in Stonewall in 1969.

One of Larry Kramer’s famous sayings is “never accept crumbs.”

The idea that we should cut off 1/4 of our community or in other words, accept the glass as half full, is insulting to all LGBT.

Johno
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

“This is what happens when left-wing whack-o activists in San Francisco, New York and Washington go unchallenged.”

Wow!
Thanks for giving me a reason to completely disregard every word you wrote.

JJ in Chicago
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

NG: “The idea that we should cut off 1/4 of our community or in other words, accept the glass as half full, is insulting to all LGBT.”

Nonsense.

More talking points.

It’s not about settling for half a loaf, bread crumbs or a half empty glass. It’s understanding how Washington works and knowing that civil rights come incrementally.

The votes for a trans-inclusive ENDA were NOT there. Period.

Transgendered people (en masse) did not lobby their representatives in time. They were complacent and they paid the price for it.

They can’t blame HRC or the gay community for doing something they should have done themselves.

Eric in the OC
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

Well, there have been some wonderful insights made here. And I applaud the thoughtful ideas put forth in an effort to bring about equality. Like one of the previous posters, I must say that I too am conflicted in this arena. If our goal really is equality, then that takes time and most of all, baby steps. 95% of something really IS better than 0%. I guess my sadness is elevated when we as a group decide to move the bus forward while some are still trying to get on. The Transgender community wants the same thing we all want; to be respected and loved just as they are. And to have the right to pursue happiness and love affirming qualities of life without the fear of being beaten fired or even killed in the process. Until we are able to truly come together ~ whether we fully understand another’s journey or not ~ we never see the mountain top as MLK so profoundly put it.

The way I see it is the anger has to stop. It’s misplaced. Maybe HRC has gone corporate, but they still speak with a voice and for the voiceless longing for justice. Boycotts only stop the dialogue which is what we so fervently need. I hope we can rise above this and realize that our success is paramount to our unification. And with one voice we will be a choir that will appeal to the hearts and minds of those who would, without the benefit of knowing us, condemn us.

L. Junius Brutus
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

‘Are you joking?? I’m sorry but that is simply completely false. There are huge numbers of gays and lesbians who crossdress or are genderqueer. There are huge numbers of t-folk who identify as gay or lesbian both before and after transitioning.’

And there are gays and lesbians who are black. A huge number. Millions. That doesn’t make the gay and lesbian rights struggle an integral part of the black civil rights program. Most old-timers of the civil rights movement are sympathetic, but they were also realistic. They weren’t going to engage in kamikaze-solidarity by waiving civil rights until there was enough support to pass gay rights legislation. And neither should they have. And neither should we now.

‘The missing language in the bill is not nonsense; anti-gay activists threatened to use it as a loophole.’

Source?

‘Both Obama and Clinton most certainly said they would NOT sign a T-less ENDA, in no uncertain terms. How else would you define being against it? Look it up on PHB for yourself, there are many articles about it with direct quotes.’

I distinctly remember Obama saying that he’d try to get the best possible ENDA out of Congress, in an interview with the Advocate. Instead of simply asserting that you are right, you might want to provide some evidence.

‘They are the ones who needlessly planted an ax straight down the middle of the gay community that didn’t need to be there, and until they rectify that, the schism will continue to exist; there are so many people much angrier about it than me, who aren’t going to simply evaporate.’

No, the ones who needlessly created a schism were the ones who decided to use this as an opportunity for grandstanding, like Matt Foreman. To paraphrase Rumsfeld, you work with the Congress you have, not with the Congress you wish you’d had. Needlessly? Passing ENDA is definitely not needless, it having been the top priority for these groups over the last how many years? And how on earth did the bill that they championed for so many years all of a sudden become unacceptable?

L. Junius Brutus
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

‘Those transgenders you don’t understand are the ones who got beat in Stonewall in 1969.’

I read an article that refuted this claim. Furthermore, even if your claims were true, that by no mean obliges us to do anything. Certainly not sacrifice equal employment rights for no reason. There is absolutely no reason for gays and lesbians to wait before getting equal rights, because the public isn’t ready for transgender protections. None. As I said, many gays marched with Martin Luther King, but that in no way obliged the African-Americans to sacrifice their civil rights until the public was ready for ours.

‘One of Larry Kramer’s famous sayings is “never accept crumbs.”’

Getting a bill passed that you’ve been lobbying for, for 32 years isn’t a ‘crumb’.

‘The idea that we should cut off 1/4 of our community or in other words, accept the glass as half full, is insulting to all LGBT.’

I very much doubt that transgenders are 1/4 of the gay and lesbian community and the transgender community put together. And I am not ‘LGBT’, I’m gay – not part of an artificial community. I have absolutely nothing to do with people who feel that they are of the opposite gender, although I do sympathize with them and their struggles. That is still no reason to be politically unrealistic.

revtj
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

NONE OF US ARE SAVED UNLESS ALL OF US ARE SAVED.

Rick Loesser
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

It seems to me that there’s no such thing as ‘a little injustice’. A thing is either just, or its not. As a gay man who has lost two jobs because I’m gay (one in Oakland CA, and the other in S.F.) we do need tough legislation to end discrimination. However, I can not justify gaining protections for myself, by inviting the hateful to transfer their hate to another, smaller group. Happily, I believe the LGBT (are we adding Q now?)community is large enough and strong enough to accomodate both those who choose to stress practicality, and those who choose to stress principle.

L. Junius Brutus
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

‘NONE OF US ARE SAVED UNLESS ALL OF US ARE SAVED.’

I’m very thankful that Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and other people who actually got something done for civil rights, did not share your view. H*ll, Martin Luther King didn’t even demand full equal rights for blacks at first, for example, he disavowed interracial by saying that he wanted to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law. He knew that working incrementally was the way to success. And succeed he did.

‘However, I can not justify gaining protections for myself, by inviting the hateful to transfer their hate to another, smaller group.’

Would you have opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because it did not include gays and lesbians? Would you have opposed it because it did not include transgenders?

Patrick ONeill
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

I think that everyone can see the division I was referring to, and most of us can see what it was that caused this division.

Was it necessary, or just crappy leadership ?

Pushing the emasculated ENDA has NOT succeeded, and even if they ever get it through the Senate it will be vetoes and everyone knows it.

So no one is going to get an ENDA either way.

One way, HRC gets to send out more fund raising please saying “We passed ENDA” at the cost of the division we see here, the other way there is a stronger and more united movement.

HRC did not listen to it’s members on this and relies upon it’s reputation as the “largest LGBT organization”.

The best outcome of all this is that HRC starts to realize that they can’t keep ignoring their members forever and hopefully have a vote of no confidence for Joe Solomonese and get someone with some brains.

NG
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

If I’m not mistaken, the reason the T’s are being told to wait at the back of the line is because Democrats in the House and Senate lack or lacked the backbone to pass an all inclusive ENDA.

They first said they could deliver. They couldn’t.

Mind you these same Democrats also came up short in giving us the Matthew Shepard Act Hate Crimes Bill.

If they couldn’t give us that, what makes those of you believe they can pass a stripped down version?

The HRC may be all Mr. Kincaid describes but they also tried to take a short cut instead of staying firm and created the divisiveness we have here.

That can’t be dismissed.

NG
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

Talking points? Perhaps, but I’d rather subscribe to these than the ones being put forth by the anti-gay machine and cowards.

Stefano A
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

This internecine feud, to me, simply smacks of “cutting of your nose to spite your face”.

It’s not an issue of whether or not the LGB community does or does not support civil rights (or equal protections) for both the encompassed LGB and Transgender subgroups.

What the entire argument, in my opinion, is really about is what strategy should be. In that respect, I would have to agree that “cutting off your nose to spite your face” — that is, an “all or nothing” attitude — is not a very wise strategy to adopt.

L. Junius Brutus
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

Patrick ONeill: ‘I think that everyone can see the division I was referring to, and most of us can see what it was that caused this division.

Was it necessary, or just crappy leadership ?’

It was probably good leadership in the wrong way, by people like Matt Foreman. Demagoguery is always easier than actually getting something done.

‘One way, HRC gets to send out more fund raising please saying “We passed ENDA” at the cost of the division we see here, the other way there is a stronger and more united movement.’

A united movement? So you’ll get 4-5% of the population united. That is still 46 percentage points away from what you need. This is something that unfortunately mirrors religious right rhetoric. If ‘the movement’ were to unite, everything will go just fine.

NG: ‘If I’m not mistaken, the reason the T’s are being told to wait at the back of the line is because Democrats in the House and Senate lack or lacked the backbone to pass an all inclusive ENDA. ‘

It has nothing to do with backbone and everything to do with getting re-elected. Members weren’t exactly enthusiastic about losing their seats over this issue. And you need 60 votes in the Senate. If all Democrats were to vote for it, you’d still need 9 Republicans.

‘If they couldn’t give us that, what makes those of you believe they can pass a stripped down version? ‘

If they couldn’t deliver the prudent version, why did some people do everything they could to undermine it? It seems that you wouldn’t need to do that, if it were already headed for defeat.

‘The HRC may be all Mr. Kincaid describes but they also tried to take a short cut instead of staying firm and created the divisiveness we have here.’

HRC didn’t create anything, the people who just couldn’t accept political realities and pushed for the unrealistic bear the sole blame for the ‘division’.

Timothy Kincaid
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

From the comments above, it’s clear that there are very strongly held opinions about HRC and their position on ENDA.

However, regardless of one’s view about ENDA or HRC, I still contend that it is selfish, spiteful, and very shortsighted to actively seek to dissuade people from going and contributing directly to a fund to fight Proposition 8. While this might feel like a victory to those who are petty and delight at HRC’s discomfort, It is even more so a victory to those who seek to send gay couples back to second class status.

As a Californian who will be personally harmed by the initiative, I cannot help but feel that these “economic leftists” – be they gay, straight, or transgendered – are callously threatening my freedom. And as they are abetting those who hate and seek to harm me, I have a hard time seeing them as an essential part of the community in which I live.

Emily K
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

If there’s one thing I can take from this space of conflict and discussion, it is that we are proving that the queer community is indeed NOT a single monolithic entity with a sweeping “ideology” as Religious Rightists would like the public to believe. The fact that there needs to be a call for unity at all attests to this.

Because I am a realist, I believe in incremental change. Our government is set up so that change happens fairly slowly. This is to protect us. If legal and constitutional change happened too quickly, extremes on either side would be constantly battling. Things may tilt more to the left or to the right at certain times, but overall, moderate modest changes are accomplished and those are the ones that stick.

Jon M
July 26th, 2008 | LINK

No matter how you may feel about the HRC, I just keep thinking that undermining any LGBT group and their efforts is counterproductive to our movement.

All I see when we argue amongst ourselves and in this case, hold a “counterparty”, is to put big smiles on the likes of LaBarbera, Barber, Dobson, Wildmon, Perkins, etc. and believe me, I want to give them as much pain as possible, not pleasure!

Lisbeth
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

“An incremental approach was likelier to succeed.”

Those are very fine words and a lovely theory. The practice is far different. Because of the ENDA debacle, a movement has been started by conservatives to take away the rights that transgedered people already have, and in a number of places they have succeeded. And these same conservatives are using this as the spearhead to remove all GLBT rights. What kind of an incremental approach is that? I call it a policy of stupidity.

JJ in Chicago
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

L. Junius Brutus: “HRC didn’t create anything, the people who just couldn’t accept political realities and pushed for the unrealistic bear the sole blame for the ‘division’.”

Bingo!!

You hit the bullseye. Your statement sums it up perfectly. That’s exactly what happened.

Jason D
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

JJ and L. Junius don’t seem to understand anything about the history of LGBT rights.

The transgender rights movment is not something tacked onto the LGB movement. They are not a seperate movement that got merged with ours. Transgenders were some of the first people to fight back during Stonewall and it is quite insulting of both of you to diminish and dismiss their contribution to the LGBT community. The fact that you read ONE article that refutes this(by the way, source please?) is hardly compelling. It’s not like there are seperate bars for transgender people, They have always been part of our community. LGBT has always been about sexuality and gender being non-conformist. The fact that you don’t see that is ridiculous. Why not toss out the bisexuals, why not just toss out the lesbians too?

I’ll explain it to you. LGBT is about who we are and who we love. Gender and sexuality are connected. All of us fall short of societal expecations of gender and sexuality.

I’m surprised you don’t get that, obviously you’ve never heard someone say that you’re not a real man because “real men” don’t have sex with other men, they have sex with women. If you’re partnered, I’m surprised you’ve never been asked “who’s the woman/who’s the man in the relationship?”. You mean to tell me that as a gay man, you’ve never had anyone tell you or treat you as if you were a woman who happened to have a penis? Have you never had someone suggest that your life might be easier if you got a sex change? There’s even the theory that gay men have a “female soul”? Do you not get that most cross-dressers are assumed to be gay? Do you not know that most often straight people assume that a gay man likes to refer to himself with female pronouns and or dress in women’s clothing? Have you never heard the stereotype that flannel and combat boots are a staple of both lumberjack and lesbian attire? Or that many of the drag queens performing in gay clubs are transgender too? Society has certain expectations of what “men” and “women” are and that includes our physical parts, the way we carry ourselves, and who we are interested in sexually.

Trying to disconnect the transgender by saying “And there are gays and lesbians who are black.” as though this refutes transgender lesbians and gays is ridiculous and totally ignorant. Skin color has nothing to do with sexuality, but what kind of sex organs someone has and what kind of gender a person expresses absolutely does. It’s amazing to me that gay people don’t get that.

Another way of explaining this is simple…. the reason people have a problem with homosexuality is because of our GENDER and the GENDER of the person we are sexual with. Gender identity is absolutely connected to the LGB community because LGB go against what is commonly believed to be the gender identity of men and women. Straight men view “manhood” as not only having male organs but also using those organs with a woman. For straight people, who you have sex with is as important, if not more important than what you look like naked.

The fact that JJ and L. Junius are attempting to divorce what has always been one movment is exactly what angers trangender activists. I’ve noticed this time and again, this sort of dismissal and wanton ignorance of the inclusion of the transgender. It’s exactly what they fear, it’s exactly why they pushed to stop the ENDA without trans protections. The common belief is that they will be abandoned. That they are being given the “oh sure, we’ll get to you next time” reasoning to get their support and compliance, and that we will never make good on that promise to follow up.

It boggles my mind that people who are part of a community that society rejects because of the GENDER of ourselves and our partners don’t get why people who’s GENDER doesn’t match up to society’s expecations is part of the group.

It’s also odd that Timothy calls for unity, and you guys spend time trying to create more of a split by suggesting that transfolk are nothing more than unwelcome and undeserving hangers-on.

Richard Rush
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

At the end of the day I agree with Timothy, but with some reluctance. I accept the political reality behind the decision to remove the T’s from ENDA at this time. I don’t personally know any T’s, but I believe that they are more vulnerable to discrimination now in 2008 than we L’s and G’s. I support the inclusion of T with LGB. And I want to see us make an absolute commitment that we will fight hard on behalf of T’s for full equality in the future, not because it’s our responsibility or obligation, but because it is the right thing to do. I doubt that T’s by themselves would ever have enough numbers to create a powerful political constituency.

When the history is written on LG’s attainment of full equality, it would be shameful if it had to say that it was achieved, in part, by our abandoning a more vulnerable sub-group.

From now until November all our resources need to go toward defeating Prop8 in California, and I hope that the T’s will accept that.

Regarding HRC: At one time I was more enamored with them. During that time my partner and I had a guided tour of the HRC offices in Washington (back when Elizabeth Birch was still there). I have since become less enamored. A few years ago I heard Joe Solmonese in a live panel discussion, and I was NOT impressed. Surely they can do better.

JJ in Chicago
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

Jason D: “The fact that JJ and L. Junius are attempting to divorce what has always been one movment is exactly what angers trangender activists … It’s exactly what they fear, it’s exactly why they pushed to stop the ENDA without trans protections.”

One movement? Really? Then I’ll ask my question again:

The lobbying works both ways, right? (Oh, but it’s not.)

For the second time: How much lobbying are transgendered people doing on behalf of gay men and lesbians?

(And no, trans board members on state and national non-profits don’t count. I mean private citizens.)

How many trans folks are lobbying to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell??

How many trans folks are lobbying to end a relic of the Anita Bryant era– Florida’s complete ban on gay men and lesbians to adopt children??

The truth is very few, if any. That’s because it’s not their issue. They can’t have it both ways.

Rather than consensus building, the trans movement is used to resorting to strong-arm tactics and bullying to get their way. In the past it usually worked, unfortunately.

But not this time.

With ENDA, they did push to kill it. And they failed. Barney Frank stood up to their arrogant self-righteous sense of entitlement. Bravo to Barney.

They bet the farm on that doomed “united ENDA” strategy and it blew up in their faces. The sexual orientation ENDA passed by a wide margin.

Their movement is too immature and not ready for prime time. In time, they’ll realize that.

The truth is the gay and lesbian community will move on without them.

Jim Burroway
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

I have a deep and heartfelt love-hate relationship with the HRC. They, more than anyone, have the potential of doing so much good for the country.

But their continual antagonism and arrogance towards the grass roots is absolutely appalling. No organization which has become so incredibly alienated from those who they purport to server can legitimately call themselves representatives of the community.

I’m speaking out of frustration over their high-minded and arrogant actions here in Arizona in 2006 and again in 2008. They have offered very little cooperation to LGBT leaders in the local communities, instead hand-picking those they will work with and freezing everyone else out. As we speak, they are again playing the same game of favorites in 2008 as we face another marriage amendment battle.

As for 2006, Pima County (Tucson) delivered the largest defeat to prop 107 — 42,806 votes, nearly 16 percentage points. That margin was large enough that if the other counties that defeated prop 107 had merely tied, the measure would have still been defeated in Pima County’s vote alone.

HRC likes to point to Arizona as a success story. But the real story is that Pima County broke away from the statewide campaign because of deep disagreements and the dismissive, high-handed attitudes from the HRC-sanctioned campaign. Southern Arizona went it alone and in the end delivered the lions share of the vote to defeat the amendment.

In 2008, it appears, on last report, that the HRC may be again bypassing the already-established state groups. I certainly know that Southern Arizona continues to be frozen out from HRC’s polling data and other support.

Complaints that those who criticize the HRC are fostering divisions need to step back and understand that the HRC is responsible for how they deal with their base. As far as I can see from my own personal perspective on the ground, they are seriously dropping the ball.

Jesse Helms drew grudging support from his detractors from North Carolina because no matter what anyone thought of his politics, they knew he ran one of the best constituent service offices in the country. Has anyone ever tried to get a phone call returned from the HRC? How many local LGBT groups have been able to get any response from them? I know quite a few that have been ignored.

I do think that an organization that is as large as the HRC should be held accountable to the community that it seeks to serve. The HRC has done some wonderful things. Their corporate equality index, for example, has been a positive force in persuading companies to extend benefits and policies to promote equality in the workplace. I am a direct and grateful beneficiary of that. And until last week, I sported an HRC sticker on the back of my car.

This week, the sticker is gone. At a time when we need partners, I’m seeing something very different taking shape.

It’s time for the HRC to reconsider its engagement with the grass roots, and with knowledgeable LGBT leaders on the ground who know their communities very well. Until I see a new commitment from the HRC to address this fundamental alienation that they themselves have fostered, I believe that they will continue to be deserving targets for criticism.

Patrick ONeill
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

Just two points

JJ – I’m not T but I support them wholeheartedly as I think we all need to.
At it’s base our cause is a moral one – that everyone is entitled to equality and justice. As soon as we start parsing it so that gays are but T’s aren’t, I think we lose our moral authority.

Luckily I think that more gays understand this that the picture you and Brutus paint.

Timothy – I understand that you don’t want anything to interfere with your fundraising.

THe HRC has “pledged” 500,000 to support your fight – does that include the money that it is raising ?

Wouldn’t it make more sense for you to contirute locally and for the HRC to raise money out of state, like NY and send it to suppliment you ?

In the meantime we are also facing a battle in AZ this year and HRC has told us to fuck off, not one red penny.

They take in 10 million a year – what they have “pledged” (good luck with that” is not much more than Joe Solomonese’s salary.

Jim Burroway
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

I am not sure that the HRC has exactly told Arizona to “f*ck off”, but I do know that they effectively told a lot of groups that in AZ in 2006. They did a good job in the early organizing for 2006, but they alienated a lot of people through the critical summer months. Southern AZ ended up going their own way separately, and defeated the margin by larger margins than elsewhere statewide.

The HRC certainly hasn’t been forthcoming as full partners with the states largest LGBT organizations for 2008.

Jason D
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

“One movement? Really? Then I’ll ask my question again:

The lobbying works both ways, right? (Oh, but it’s not.)

For the second time: How much lobbying are transgendered people doing on behalf of gay men and lesbians?”

Your question has zero to do with transgender people being part of the same movement. You act as they they joined the party 5 minutes ago, when in actuality they helped plan the party. You want to categorically dismiss their history, and their efforts by summing it up with “what have you done for me lately?” Sorry Ms. Jackson, but your attitude shows whatever efforts being put forth wouldn’t be enough for you anyway.

The fact that there isn’t a lot of visibility of transpeople on the issues you mention speaks to the fact that there are even fewer transgender than their are gay and lesbians.

“(And no, trans board members on state and national non-profits don’t count. I mean private citizens.)”

What did I just say, oh that’s right, that actual efforts wouldn’t be good enough anyway. That’s exactly what you’re doing here. The fact that you dismiss their efforts speaks volumes about your anti-trans bias, and your ignorance to the plight and concerns of transgender people. Why aren’t you talking about kicking out the bisexuals? Where’s your question asking where the private non-board member bisexuals are?
You know damn well there aren’t a lot of transgender people to begin with, so you eliminate from consideration the only visible ones. I guess all those board members aren’t doing a thing.

“How many trans folks are lobbying to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell??

How many trans folks are lobbying to end a relic of the Anita Bryant era– Florida’s complete ban on gay men and lesbians to adopt children??

The truth is very few, if any. That’s because it’s not their issue. They can’t have it both ways.”

You partially admit it here, but apparently being a smaller subset of a small community means the bar is actually higher for them to be “worthy” of your help and support. How helpful of you.

“Rather than consensus building, the trans movement is used to resorting to strong-arm tactics and bullying to get their way. In the past it usually worked, unfortunately.”

Except the board members, which must just be figureheads and not doing anything helpful or useful. Way to build up an enemy by conveniently setting up categories that both dismiss and demonize them. Wonder where that will lead…

“The truth is the gay and lesbian community will move on without them.”

Thus you prove my point, and explain why things are the way they are. You can’t wait to get rid of them. I’ve notice a lot of gay folks like you, who see transgenders as the ugly cousin they wish would go away. Again, your
ignorance is astounding.

Gee, you’re ready to pick up and move on without them, I can’t imagine why they’d be against taking out trans protections and supporting someone as ungrateful as you. I can’t imagine.

Face it, this has nothing to do with the efforts of transfolk, and EVERYTHING to do with your unfounded bias against them.

Autumn Sandeen
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

There are assumptions in this piece that aren’t correct.

First, transgender people didn’t succeed in derailing ENDA. Even for the version of ENDA that didn’t have gender identity and expression protections that passed the House, it never had a serious chance in the Senate — Senate supporters don’t have enough votes for cloture on a filibuster. Plus, President Bush would not have signed it into law. Transgender people have not had the power by themselves to derail ENDA — how many House members voted for the measure without gender identity and expression language? A majority.

Secondly, Timothy assumes that the HRC did their polling/research in good faith. I’ve talked to two communications experts regarding how the survey questions were designed, and the experts’ opinions were that the questions were designed to get the answers that supported the HRC’s change of strategy, not the other way around. The polling done at the HRC in 2004 was more accurate.

Thirdly, the HRC changed their position to one supporting the House, sexual orientation only version of ENDA one day before the Congress voted on it. This was not in line with what they told transgender activists they would do in 2004, when the organization announced that they would only support versions of ENDA that included gender identity and expression language. On the first occassion of a version of ENDA reaching the floor of a congressional house that didn’t include gender identity and expression, the HRC blinked, and changed what they would support with less than 24 hours notice.

Lastly, I’m sure that Timothy wouldn’t be pleased if an organization that identified itself as LGBT didn’t treat L, G, B, and T issues with parity if it were his subcommunity that was the one that was relegated to waiting for legislation. This is especially true if one’s own subcommunity were promised organizational issue parity prior to a legislative vote taking place, but the organization changed it’s mind at the very last minute.

Hey, if you like the policies HRC, then one should consider giving them money, and supporting the organization in other ways. But at the same time, transgender people and their allies shouldn’t be faulted for disagreeing with the HRC’s strategies on legislation, and pointing out to equality minded people that the HRC’s strategy for civil rights legislation leaves a listed constituency group of the HRC’s without civil rights; without issue parity within their orgainzaion. Transgender people and their allies, as a whole, don’t want the HRC acting if they are the undisputed, central voice of the LGBT civil rights movement if the organization doesn’t treat gender identity and expression on parity with sexual orientation.

The HRC created their own public relations problem with their own public behavior; they should have known that the grass roots would rebel at their actions regarding ENDA. They also know what to do to fix this problem.

Autumn Sandeen
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

Jason D:

Look up Shannon Minter at your earliest convenience. He’s an FTM who was the lead attorney for arguing marriage equality in front of the California Supreme Court.

Look up Matt Stevens (also know as M.E. Stevens) at your earliest convenience too. He’s an FTM, and the lead attorney arguing to get the Boy Scouts out of San Diego’s Balboa Park because of the Scouts discriminatory policies against LGBT and athiest parents, children, and leaders.

For that matter, look up Dana Beyer, Diego Sanchez, Melissa Sklar, Donna Rose, and Babs Casbar-Siperstien — among many others — who are publicly transgender and work on “LGB” issues. In proportion to transgender subcommunity size, transgender people work in numbers on broad LGBT community issues. You haven’t looked to see that we have.

I’m transgender, and I’m heading in this afternoon to participate in a phone bank to defeat California’s Prop. 8. I care about marriage equality, even though I don’t have a partner, and am unlikely to enter either a lesbian or strait marriage before I die.

Do your homework, JasonD, before making claims that transgender people don’t care about broad LGBT equality issues, and don’t work on broad LGBT equality issues. Many of us do care, and many of us do work on broad community issues — even leading on these issues.

Priya Lynn
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

Autumn you refered to JasonD, but I think you really meant to address JJ, he was the one who claimed transgender people don’t care about broad LGBT equality issues. JasonD was a well spoken supporter of transpeople.

JJ said ” How much lobbying are transgendered people doing on behalf of gay men and lesbians?”.

I and every transperson I know lobbies regularly and unselfishly on behalf of gays and lesbians. Your bias is sad and shameful. The gay and lesbian’s communities concerns are our concerns and we have and will continue to fight for your rights even while you try to build animosity against us and exclude us from the effort to obtain equal rights.

Autumn Sandeen
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

You’re right. My mistake was on who made the comment, but I don’t believe I’m off on what I said as a response to the particular statement that trans pepole don’t care about, or work on broader, LGBT community issues.

Jason D
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

Autumn, Priya! I was going to try to find you two about this one….I’m not up on all the transgender activists, so I couldn’t speak to that, but I know enough of the LGBT history to know transfolks have been at the front of the bus, taking turns driving just like anybody else.
I’ve run into this sort of transphobia before. Some members of the LGBT community are convinced that equality is just around the corner, and that all we need to do is shut down the pride parade, butch up the men, feminize the ladies, toss the entire umbrella of transgender people overboard and voila! – instant equality!

JJ in Chicago
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

Priya Lynn: “I and every transperson I know lobbies regularly and unselfishly on behalf of gays and lesbians. Your bias is sad and shameful.”

I’m glad you lobby on behalf of gays and lesbians. Thank you.

I have no bias against trans folks, as I support a trans-inclusive ENDA and wrote my congressman saying so (without being prompted by an email action alert.)

Where I vehemently disagree, is strategy. The votes simply were NOT there. Translation: It means you wait. And saying this is not hatred, bias or trans-phobia. It’s reality, and the trans community better get used to it. I doubt the votes will be there for gender identity in the next iteration too.

What I find “sad and shameful”, to use your words, is the all-or-nothing mindset of so many in the trans community who want to hold ENDA hostage once they learned the votes weren’t there for gender identity. Unbelievable.

Not one person, and I mean NOT ONE PERSON, even mentioned gays and lesbians in states with no protection. They were completely abandoned and totally forgotten. Absolutely disgusting.

That is what is “sad and shameful”.

You can bet those folks weren’t saying, “Sure, we’ll wait…”

No, the all-or-nothing crowd was comprised of left-wing activists and the non-profits with their doomed for failure “we’re not free until we’re all free” mindset, who are based in San Francisco, New York and Washington and who have absolutely no idea how Congress passes legislation.

Worse yet, this same lot had the audacity to say the trans folks were the ones “thrown under the bus”.

What a lie.

The ones “thrown under the bus” were gays and lesbians in states with no protections.

Killing landmark federal civil rights legislation when you have the votes to protect millions of people is unheard of.

That is what is “sad and shameful”.

Finally, please explain how no protection for anyone is better than some protection for millions? Show me your math.

Patrick ONeill
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

“Finally, please explain how no protection for anyone is better than some protection for millions? Show me your math.”

That’s easy – are you happy with the protections you won from the non-inclusive ENDA ?

Because you didn’t get any, and that’s the reality you need to get used to.

There never was a chance that ANY ENDA would get past a Bush veto.

There was no downside to anyone fot pushing for an enclusive ENDA, and a big downside for this split.

When Obama is President and we have a real congressional majority then your math may be correct but for 2007 all we have is a leadership clusterfuck

JJ in Chicago
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

Patrick O’Neill:

>> “That’s easy – are you happy with the protections you won from the non-inclusive ENDA ?”

I’m plenty happy with the significant margin of victory. We now have a baseline in which to build from.

What you spin as “non-inclusive” is really the original ENDA– that is, before activists got overconfident and pushed for adding other (untested) categories.

>> “There was no downside to anyone fot pushing for an enclusive ENDA, and a big downside for this split.”

No. That’s wrong. This is the first time federal legislation protecting gay men and lesbians in the workplace was passed by the House– by a big margin, I might add. That’s a MAJOR milestone and the gay community has every right to celebrate and pat itself on the back.

What you call a “big downside”, I call taking a metric. It tells the trans community they have work to do. Lots of it. Wasting time protesting HRC events won’t get them any new ‘yes’ votes. And that is the objective.

I know the sour-grapes crowd wants to rain on the parade and downplay the significance of this victory. Doesn’t change what really happened.

>> When Obama is President and we have a real congressional majority then your math may be correct but for 2007 all we have is a leadership clusterfuck”

My math will be correct.

I disagree that leadership is in disarray. The debate about the wisdom (or in my opinion, stupidity) of keeping our two movements joined at the hip is just what the doctor ordered. I welcome it.

For all too long, left-wing activists based in the big coastal cities have called the shots, with little or no dissent or challenge.

When there was dissent, they’d quash it with threats, bullying and protests.

Well, this time was different. Barney Frank and other House leaders stood up to them and put them in their place.

Very refreshing.

Ephilei
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

Let’s not get lost in generalities here. I’m part of Illinois Gender Advocates and we have been fairly vocal about HRC. But we always say specifically, “don’t withdraw all LGBT support, just re-route it to other organizations like the LGBT Taskforce, etc.” HRC isn’t the only way CA marriage or any other LGBT rights will go forward.

I don’t have a problem with non-inclusive ENDA, nor do I think most trans activists do. I have a problem that HRC, when speaking to trans donors, said they would only support a trans inclusive ENDA and then back out. Twice.

Someone asked what trans ppl have done for LGB rights. As a trans person, I’ve done more for LGB activism than trans activism (because there are greater opportunities). Concerning pending civil union legislation in IL, I’ve called, emailed, and made trips down to Springfield. That goes for Illinois Gender Advocates as a whole.

PS, There is no such word as “transgenders” any more than “homosexualities” or “lesbianisms”. We go by “trangender people” or just “trans people.”

Hazumu Osaragi
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

I really got the feeling reading this piece that the story is being retold in order to make those who call for HRC to keep its promises and to ethically honor its commitments to be the bad guys.

–”HRC is under attack by some who claim membership in our community.”–

“Some who claim membership”? Could you pleas show the intestinal fortitude to clearly state “Trannies need not apply’< because I for one clearly read it that way.

–”While this did not appease those who were angry with HRC, a great many gay people could not understand the rationale of allowing gay men and lesbians to continue to live under the threat of being fired or evicted until such point in the future when a more inclusive bill might have adequate political support.”–

I cannot understand the rationale of sacrificing ALL transgendered as well as ALL gender nonconforming (such as butches and nellies) in order to gain federal, countrywide protection against employment discrimination for only the straight-acting gays and lesbians. Great! Adam is a jock and has protections, but Steve is a nelly and can be fired because he just can’t help swishing. Same thing in a lesbian married couple, the ‘lipstick’ gets ENDA coverage, the ‘diesel dyke’ can be discriminated against with impunity.

–”Though they succeeded in derailing ENDA, those angry at HRC were not content. They are now seeking to hurt HRC’s fundraising abilities. They have begun protesting at fundraisers and today they are holding a “counterparty” to draw attendance away from an event that HRC is hosting in San Francisco. And they have announced that they have sabotaged HRC’s event.”–

WHO ‘succeeded in derailing ENDA’? And when was H.R. 3685 derailed? It passed the House of Representatives. It hasn’t moved out of committee in the Senate. Either way, President Bush would euthanize it the moment it reached his desk. You are rewriting history to favor the position you want to support. There are no more truths that are not political, I see…

–”The “queer progressive organizations” that are hosting the counterparty have not explained how harming HRC will benefit the community.”–

Nice scare quotes there, Timmy. And what are you trying to dog-whistle with them, that the queer (not LGBT) progressive (‘lib-rool’, gotcha’) organizations are illegitimate rabble storming the castle of the rightful rulers? Ni-i-ce…

–”And their timing could not be worse.

The battle over marriage, particularly in California, may be the most important battle that our community will fight in decades. Donald Wildmon, head of the viciously homophobic American Family Association,”–

I donated to EqualityForAll.com to support the effort to defeat Proposition 8. Notice neither the letters ‘H’ nor ‘C’ are in ‘Equality for All’. Are you saying it must be HRC that gets the money, and only they and no other can be our LGB Knights in Shining Armor?

When isn’t homophobia ‘vicious’? Yet, because the -ewwww- factor is so much higher with trans folks than with straight-acting and -appearing gays and lesbians, there’s this urge to throw us in the path of the ‘vicious’ homophobes who are hounding ALL Lesbians-Gays-Bisexuals-Transgenders, hoping that by jettisoning the icky trannies the straight-appearing can blend into the larger herd and seek safety.

This behaviour reminds me of two things. First, the character in the movie Titanic, an able-bodied man who grabs a young child as a ruse to gain admittance to one of the scarce lifeboats, then divests himself of the child once safely seated. Second, a routine by the late George Carlin, who turned a Hollywood cliche around to humorous (and truthful ) effect — “Do what you want to the girl, but leave me alone!!!”

All in all this piece is, for me, more of the HRC incrementalist kool-aid. Trannies, you ride under the bus (but don’t worry, we’ll come back an’ git’cha!)

Hazumu

Jason D
July 27th, 2008 | LINK

“It tells the trans community they have work to do. Lots of it. Wasting time protesting HRC events won’t get them any new ‘yes’ votes. And that is the objective.”

The trans community THEY have work to do. Hmm, not “we”? No bias against transfolk? You supported a trans-inclusive ENDA, but transfolk are still “they” huh?

“I disagree that leadership is in disarray. The debate about the wisdom (or in my opinion, stupidity) of keeping our two movements joined at the hip is just what the doctor ordered. I welcome it.”

Again, with the two movements fantasy. You keep harping on that as if it were true. All you need to do is read up on LGBT history to know it has never been two movements. You had no refutation when I explained that gender is central to both our dispositions and the bias against us. You had no answer to that, but you seem to think without any logical or presentable belief that “they” belong elsewhere.

It’s very clear you want to get as far away from transfolk as you can, and yet you claim to have no bias against them. What rational, trans-positive reason would you have for that?

Again, Tim wrote this article calling for unity, but your “trans-inclusive ENDA supporting” self can only think of reasons why we should go our seperate ways. Interesting.

Tina Seitz
July 28th, 2008 | LINK

I am a Trans woman that will refuse to support HRC until changes are made and this is not just about ENDA.

Some people are complaining that Trans people don’t belong in the same fight as Gays and Lesbians. That statement is wrong. What some L’s and G’s don’t comprehend is that a large part of the discrimination they face is based on gender norms. It is the “butch Lesbian” and the “effeminate Gay” that are most at risk for discrimination. While it can all be lumped under homophobia, it is the variation from expected gender norms that makes them stand out to ridicule and the non-inclusive version of ENDA does absolutely nothing to protect these people (Gay, Lesbian, or Trans).

As to my not supporting the HRC, why is it that in their corporate equality index, domestic partnership benefits counts for 15/100 points. You either have those benefits or you get 0 points in that category. For Trans surgical benefits, it counts for only 5/100 points, and you can get those points even if no surgical benefits are offered, no hormones are covered, and no psychological therepy is covered. How can any group representing Trans people say this is fair, that what the AMA and WPATh have determined to be medically necessary surgery, is not a requirement for “my” advocacy group to deem important enough to demand?

It is time for Trans folks to show the HRC that we will no longer accept their lies and their exclusion of us, not only in ENDA, but in their own policies as well.

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2008 | LINK

Autumn,

Although your listing of T-folk who are contributing to gay and lesbian rights was intended to reflect current contributors, I want to add one person to your list who is no longer with us.

One of the activists whom I most admired was Connie Norman. I had the privelege of working with Connie in an organization in the early 90′s. She was ever able to find both the principled and the pragmatic approach.

Connie, through her lack of ego and her willingness to forgive, was able to find the most unlikely of allies. I learned a great deal from her.

Jan
July 28th, 2008 | LINK

We and They???

Arggg. This is A problem! I read an ancient text once talking about gays and lesbians and trans people 100 years after Christ. Going back even further to Greek cultures, gays and lesbians and trans people were together. Here is the point! Gays, Lesbians and Trans people are NOT WE and THEY groups! We are WE! There are differences but we have been together for thousands of years. Most organizations understood this and hence the HRC stood alone!

JJ asked how much any of us common folk have done for same sex marriage and such. Well, with respect to Same Sex Marriage, trans folk are one arm of the GLBT rights front. Gays and Lesbians want same sex marriage, I (a transsexual) can help and have spent tremendous amounts of time arguing in favor of same sex marriage. Some of that time has been with state reps (some quite conservative), some with federal and some with individuals. Seems most legislators think outlawing same sex marriage is free and costs the taxpayers nothing. Their thinking is wrong, there is a tax cost! I am not married anymore and will likely never be married again so same sex marriage is of little benefit for me. Yet, I do as I can!

I’ve also argued for healthcare for Gays and Lesbians as well as Trans. I bet many here think “what’s the gay and lesbian healthcare issue?”. Hint, take a look at your policy online and you’ll see the birthing support stuff or this family stuff but what exactly is there for Gays and Lesbians? I’ve also fought so homeless GLBT people can have access for help (including homeless children whom were discarded by their families). I can not fight for all issues alone! Neither can you. There is the value of US working together. There is tremendous strength in OUR diversity as long as we do not splinter into “we” and “they”.

ENDA isn’t law for anyone! It was known it wouldn’t become law last year. Removing “gender identity” from a bill doomed not becoming law, no matter what, isn’t incremental advancement.

This is not a part time thing for me or many like me. I am asked questions about sexuality and thinking and so many others. Questions, no Gay or Lesbian or heterosexual would ever be asked. As I answer,not using “we” and “they”, I stand and strive for Equality for All GLBT people every day!

Priya Lynn
July 28th, 2008 | LINK

JJ said “Killing landmark federal civil rights legislation when you have the votes to protect millions of people is unheard of.

That is what is “sad and shameful”.

Finally, please explain how no protection for anyone is better than some protection for millions? Show me your math…I’m plenty happy with the significant margin of victory. We now have a baseline in which to build from.”.

You assume when you don’t know. I haven’t taken a stand on whether or not a non-inclusive ENDA should have been put forward or supported. You keep talking about victory when there was none, ENDA did not become law and as others have pointed out that being the case there was no point in removing trans protections. You continue to push to exclude those of us who are pushing for your equality from getting our own. That is indeed sad and shameful.

JJ in Chicago
July 28th, 2008 | LINK

Wow. The state of denial of those on the all-or-nothing side is just amazing.

This is absolutely a legislative victory. I never said it would become law at this time. Of course Bush would have vetoed it.

Using the all-or-nothing crowd’s convoluted logic, when the New York state senate gets a Democrat majority and same-sex marriage equality legislation is passed in both chambers in Albany, then gays and lesbians shouldn’t consider it a legislative victory?? Any they shouldn’t celebrate?

Come on. Of course they will. There’s a difference between celebrating a legislative victory and the signing ceremony.

Still in denial?? So let’s see: when a trans inclusive ENDA is passed (most likely years after sexual orientation), you’re not going to celebrate the legislative victory until signed into law??

Get real. I’m not buying it.

I know your side of the argument. The sour-grapes crowd is trying to downplay the significance of this legislative victory.

You’re bitter. It hurts to lose. You stamped your feet and made your threats and it aggravates you to no end that your usual shtick didn’t work.

And for the trans folk that are stepping forward saying they lobby for gay men and lesbians, I say thank you.

I lobby for you too. But I won’t carry your water for you and I don’t expect you to carry the water for gay men and women.

By that I mean I reject an all-or-nothing strategy. I make no apologies for that.

By that I mean you must be on the front lines for gender identity, NOT gay men and lesbians. You must tell your story first hand to lawmakers and we will support you as allies.

The same applies to us for sexual orientation. Nothing changes hearts and minds like telling a personal story first hand. Only YOU can do that for gender identity, not us.

I know many trans folks were on the front lines… but the truth is Congress heard very little from their constituents across the country on ENDA, until the vote was postponed and all the non-profits were sending their hysterical action alerts.

That’s a good start. But it was too little, too late.

Jan
July 28th, 2008 | LINK

JJ of Chicago,

As I said before, we are We. Ok JJ, you personally, from now on, carry your own friggin water! I ask you JJ, what have YOU done?

I and nobody I know are asking you to carry our water. Frankly JJ, I personally wouldn’t trust you with any water. Ahh, and this seems the crux of the entire topic. Unlike you JJ, the HRC says they want to carry some water for Trans. HRC words which have not matched their deeds on more than just ENDA.

JJ, you seem rather historically spun on ENDA. I have been in DC for several years now. I’ve been there lobbying for trans inclusion, for same sex marriage, for Hate Crimes and for healthcare which is equal. There were calls and letters years before as well. Have you researched the events as they actually transpired? Evidently not or you would never have been so bold or feel the least bit justified saying anything including “good start” or “too little” and “too late”.

Calling people names like bitter or whatever childish rants you bring up shows your prejudice. Many prejudice people seem to make up demeaning or degrading terms and approaches for individuals they wish to suppress. I didn’t tolerate people belittling based on race in the 60’s and 70’s, didn’t tolerate belittling for a host of reasons since and won’t tolerate it now! For me, this is a fight to survive and yet I don’t give up on holding my hand out for doing the right thing for all. People fighting for survival should never be demeaned or belittled whether you identify with them or not. JJ, perhaps you wish further demeaning my life and efforts with your prejudice?

I believe there is a clear path for the HRC to mend the flat fence. Words aren’t going to fix the fence. Actions are! Calling the police on protesters in Texas was the wrong action. HRC needs to open it’s doors and invite the protesters in. Then HRC needs to be doing things for Trans inclusion not just talking. Actions will speak louder than words.

The original author of the article had pieces of a more reasoned approach. Though, I completely disagree with the premise that ENDA had any chance of passage last year. Nor do I agree the ENDA bill Bush people helped craft and HRC would have helped much of anyone. Also, seemingly the author doesn’t realize this is not the first time Trans was thrown off the HRC bus. For now, these are not the issues on hand, so please stop spreading propaganda on the issue and perhaps we can move on a bit. Phrases like “claim membership”, “dancing in glee” and “slighted” only inflame the division. Please stop dividing US into They and We again.

Timothy Kincaid, I agree, United WE Stand! My understanding is Trans activists have never been a trivial force and as I said before, I believe Trans activists can help! WE do need to be UNITED! I think the questions now are with trust and how for the fights ahead.

Jason D
July 29th, 2008 | LINK

JJ, you make no sense.

First you say
“The lobbying works both ways, right? (Oh, but it’s not.)

For the second time: How much lobbying are transgendered people doing on behalf of gay men and lesbians?

(And no, trans board members on state and national non-profits don’t count. I mean private citizens.)

How many trans folks are lobbying to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell??

How many trans folks are lobbying to end a relic of the Anita Bryant era– Florida’s complete ban on gay men and lesbians to adopt children??

The truth is very few, if any. That’s because it’s not their issue. They can’t have it both ways.”

You basically take this whole “they’re not helping us, why help them?” attitude. Priya and Autumn handed you your hat on that one, rattling off a list of transgender activists who fight for LGB equality. Your first response was a mere “thank you” but now you write this:

“By that I mean you must be on the front lines for gender identity, NOT gay men and lesbians. You must tell your story first hand to lawmakers and we will support you as allies.”

First you say, “what have you done to help us?” then “thank you” now “nevermind, don’t help us, help yourselves, and we’ll help you.”

You’re a bundle of contradictions.

Priya Lynn
July 29th, 2008 | LINK

JJ said “I know your side of the argument. The sour-grapes crowd is trying to downplay the significance of this legislative victory.”.

As you stated earlier, please explain how no protection for anyone is better than protection for millions? Its not a victory when no one’s protected.

JJ said “So let’s see: when a trans inclusive ENDA is passed (most likely years after sexual orientation), you’re not going to celebrate the legislative victory until signed into law??”.

Of course not, what would be the point? Such legislative “victories” are cold comfort when they are empty gestures.

JJ said “You’re bitter. It hurts to lose. You stamped your feet and made your threats and it aggravates you to no end that your usual shtick didn’t work.”.

You claim you aren’t biased against trans people but your own words betray you. One can see your hatred of transpeople and delight in our misfortune in the very words you right. Sad and shameful.

Priya Lynn
July 29th, 2008 | LINK

that should be “words you write” – brain fart.

Catherine Devlin
July 29th, 2008 | LINK

If you haven’t read Ephilei’s comment, please do, because that’s the heart of the issue.

To describe trans people’s anger without mentioning the broken promises bends the truth to make our frustration appear unjustified. Box Turtle Bulletin is normally scrupulously truthful. That’s its strength. Please don’t abandon that now.

HRC claims the role of leadership for the whole LGBT community, and raises funds on that premise, but is poor at keeping the trust of the community. Leadership that embitters more than it inspires weakens us all. HRC the most powerful organization today, but it doesn’t have to be, if people decide to channel their support through different LGBT organizations.

helen boyd
July 29th, 2008 | LINK

One of the chief people to argue the same sex marriage case in CA was Shannon Minter, a trans man.

proudprogressiveTG
July 29th, 2008 | LINK

“HRC is under attack by some who claim membership in our community.”

Excuse me ! its called the lgbT – T as in gender transgressors as in Transgendered or Transsexual Do you not get that if gender expression is NOT protected NO ONE IS ??? Do your homework. Please. Our struggle is paved in blood. And don’t worry the 30 million dollar bohemeth is going nowhere..AND how dare they call themselves the HUMAN rights fund IF some of us are disposable.
There is lambda Legal , the is the TASK FORCE and there is the NCTE.

There are decades of false promises..so do not ask us to ignore the duplicity of the HRC too many of us transgendered and PROUD gave our bucks..and have been lied to repeatedly AND we are dancing gleeful economic leftists..your elitism is showing dear one !

WE are hurt , we are outraged. And we are not going away and will not settle for less than full inclusion IN A NEW ENDA BILL and why you will not fight for us tooth and nail shows your sad lack of historical roots…there was a time when lives were ruined people killed , raped beaten – and it still continues WHY ? because they GENDER TRANSGRESS –

so don’t tell us, or any other self respecting gay or lesbian that its time to stop pressuring the HRC ! Just don’t do it ! – we are free to give our money to those who truly represent the people

its devisive on their part to seperate us – so lets look at this more closely – insider washington politics sucks..and Joe and the gang are laying down with dogs and getting up with fleas..

my i am never forgetting the fallen – our fallen…

so yes give to the HRC if you want to BUT do not ask US who have a larger view of community to join that why can’t we all just get a bong mentality –

yours in the struggle for full equality for all of US and that includes hetero normative Queer couples..The HRC failed us – they need to step up and not do this anymore !

pptg

Maure Hennessey
November 23rd, 2008 | LINK

To JJ;
I am a Lesbian activist in New York, and I can speak from experience that the traos women that I know/women of operative history that I know are actively and intimately involved in the marriage issue, have marched, phones, lobbied here, bless them.

And it IS there issue. Consider the status of a married Lesbian, married in Canada, has benefits as married in New York that she will lose if Monroe is overturned. Further, though she is a married Lesbian in New York, she is unmarried but Lesbian in Pennsylvania and unmarried but a male in parts of Texans and Kansas. You do not think that this issue is precious to her?

As a Lesbian activist, I too held out for a better ENDA. In the best opinion of Lambda Legal, the stripped down version was so weak as to leave large numbers of Lesbians unprotected. Yes, I know that that Palinesque apologist for all things conservative Professor Carpenter disagrees, but one against hundreds of lawyers? Really. A lawyer myself, I believe that Prof Carpenter was simply being his apologist self for the right.

Are there trans-people who will noisily refuse to help us? Yes. There are also gay men and Lesbian women who will refuse as well. But my experience has been, at least in New York, that thr trans-women/women of operative history that I know are committed and working for everyone’s rights on all of our issues, full citizenship and complete equality. Please, respectfully, re-think your misconceptions about these women, and about trans men.

They are indeed part of our community, and theya re putting it on the line out there with us. Less can be said for the conservatives like Professor Carpenter, yet I do not see you dissing him with the same vigorous disdain that you extended to my Lesbian sisters of operative history. On their behalf, I request an apology

Maure Hennessey
November 23rd, 2008 | LINK

apologiees for the typos….I am a miserable typist

The View From (Ab)Normal Heights » Blog Archive » Join The Impact’s/San Diego’s Kelly Moyer
November 23rd, 2008 | LINK

[...] July, a JJ In Chicago posted a comment at the Box Turtle Bulletin that included the following statement: …How much lobbying are transgendered people doing on [...]

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