Rebecca Juro

Is There Nothing The HRC Won't Exploit?

Filed By Rebecca Juro | January 21, 2008 3:05 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: ENDA, HRC, Joe Solmonese, Martin Luther King Jr.

Joe Solmonese just keeps digging that hole deeper...

Witness his public statement for Martin Luther King Day:

”The Human Rights Campaign salutes the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His courageous leadership continues to inspire us in our work to fully realize his vision of fairness and justice for all people.

This weekend, the GLBT community joins the rest of the world in remembering the great work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose life helped move our country closer to realizing the true meaning of “equality for all”.

As we remember Dr. King, let's reflect upon our solidarity with the continued fight for civil rights and equal opportunity for all Americans.”

Yes Joe, let's reflect on that solidarity, shall we? Let's contemplate and remember how the Human Rights Campaign has willfully and enthusiastically turned its back on that solidarity and Dr. King's vision by actively supporting legislation that leaves some Americans excluded from protection against bigotry and discrimination to make it easier for politicians to offer those rights to wealthier and more politically popular American minorities.

Let's also make sure to never forget, Joe, how you came to Southern Comfort, stood before a thousand assembled Transgender-Americans, promised us HRC would stand up for us, and then reneged on that promise when the going got tough.

And most importantly, let us make certain that we always remember how you, your organization, and the Democratic leadership turned a deaf ear to the righteous outcry of over 350 civil rights organizations and their millions of members, and willfully ignored Dr. King's warning:

"...This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

Yes, Joe, let's make sure to never forget these things, and the part you and your organization have played and continue to play now in helping to ensure that our Congressional leaders will continue to pander to the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the poor and disenfranchised.

Let's all make sure that none of us ever forget that in the cause of true equality, the dream that Dr. King envisioned, you, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Democratic Congressional leadership are not a part of the solution, but the biggest obstacles to making that ideal a reality.


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Let's all make sure that none of us ever forget that in the cause of true equality, the dream that Dr. King envisioned, you, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Democratic Congressional leadership are not a part of the solution, but the biggest obstacles to making that ideal a reality.

The biggest?

I'll agree that a lot of their actions weren't helpful and that some were counterproductive, but I can think of bigger obstacles out there - FotF, the AFA, the TVC - and abstract ones - materialism, the privatization of value.

But HRC and the Dems? They're not the biggest enemy out there. There are bigger ones who'd eat HRC alive if they could.

Wait, what does that metaphor even mean?

But yeah, I agree, that HRC statement is disingenuous.

MauraHennessey | January 21, 2008 4:13 PM

I am a supporter of trans-rights Rebecca, but I have to gently suggest that hyperbole will not improve the trans-rights campaigns. HRC is certainly a flawed tool at best, but as Alex pointed out there are some far more dangerous goblins wating in the shadows.

I disagree, Alex. Which is really worse: Those who openly and honestly stand against treating us fairly or those who claim to represent us and mouth the words of inclusion and support, but then support excluding the most desperately in need in order to gain those selfsame rights for others?

I'm no fan of right-wing bigots, but at least they're far more up front about their refusal to treat us fairly under the law. It's those who are supposed to be on our side who are resorting to lying even to their own purported constituencies, and turning their backs on their public claims to support in order to accomplish their goals, to gain rights and privilege for some by denying those rights to others.

Really, which is worse: Those who discriminate against you to your face, or those who say they're your friends but then work to exclude you from equal rights and treatment behind your back?

I have to agree with Rebecca, HRC is far worse then then the far right wingnuts...

We all just have to remember that time when a
Friend stabbed us in the back just after telling
us how good we were..
Been there
Been through that...
HRC isn't to be trusted for anything and should
be attacked at every turn for what they have dome.
May HRC and Barny Frank Burn in Hell slowly and with no mercy.

Take care
Sue

We can agree to disagree here, since the main point is that we recognize those people/groups who are opposed to equality and criticize them for it and move to counter their power or redirect it.

Really, which is worse: Those who discriminate against you to your face, or those who say they're your friends but then work to exclude you from equal rights and treatment behind your back?

I don't see it in those terms. For me it's "Who's spending the most time, money, and energy to oppose equality?"

And the Religious Right has far more than HRC ever will, and spends a lot more of it opposing trans-equality.

And can we talk about HRC's name? What's up with a group that focuses on at most a narrow slice of human rights calling themselves the "Human Rights Campaign"?

How does Human Rights Watch feel about this?

Alex
The religeous Right doesn't have the traction HRC does. as soon as they say "because the Bible tells me so" they loose what little traction they have.

The HRC on the other hand Takes a different apporach they say "yes we are for your rights" then where the rubber meets the road they say "the world is not ready for your rights yet wait a while, we will let you know when"

For the way they have treated my transgender friends...
HRC can burn in hell.
And i hope they do.

Sue

The religeous right has no real power base to it yes there are people sho claim to speak for it but when it time for action the members are all over the map on the issue of the day! Just try living in the Bible belt for a spell and you will see they are a dog with a loud bark and a small bite as a group indivduals on the other hand can be very dangerious on who you can express what you are let alone belive in.

The HRC is however supposed to be our best freind???????????????I think not.

I just can't see this issue of HRC and Transgender as so black and white. I am Post-Op and I still give a monthly contribution to HRC. They did come out of the ENDA issue seeming rather sleazy.. However as someone in a long-term lesbian relationship, I see some of the positive things that they do. I am sure that the religious right people are just loving every minute of the fight.

O.K. Attack away!

Paula,

Why not donate to an organization that honestly works for the good of every LGBT American, like NGLTF, instead of one that only cares about rich, white, conventionally-gendered gays?

They come off looking sleazy for a reason, Paula...because they are exactly that.

Well Paula
I am also Post-Transition (post everything and an HBS survivor) I wouldn't waste my time with HRC they have not done anything to preserve, protect, defend. or advance the rights of TS/HBS folk.
They have a power base and need to be taken down and replaced with something that works for the good of all.


Take care.
Sue

Sue,
HBS? Harvard Business School? Home Based Schooling?
Hawaiian Business Symposium?
I guess I have been thinking of HRC more from the lesbian part of my life and not the TG. Occasional post online are the only contact that I have with the TG community.

Harry Benjamin Syndrome
For more information check out The HBS Website

Many who are Post-Transition no longer identify as Transgender and believe their transition is finished at some point after genital reconstructive urgury.

It's not about being any better then anybody else, it is about being different from those who are Transgender. We are all equal but we are certainly all not the same.

Take care
Sue

Sue,
I guess that does make sense. I still identify as transgender, its just the major part is thru. We all do see it differently, I'm sure.
I don't consider myself better than others in transition or that can't, for whatever reason, transition. I am just another person just trying to live my life in peace.

I understand...
We all are different I have friends who see it both ways. Many of us leave the community and move on...
My girlfriend has transitioned outside of the community and I'm president of a support and social group here in SanDiego.

How we identify is a very personal thing. Nobody has the right to tell another how they should identify.
For some of us it's about being TG for others like me it's about fixing a birth defect and moving on with my life.

Evidently, the transgender activists just can't seem to recover from their boyfriend deserting them.

It's like, "I hate him. I hate him. I HATE him. I wished he'd call."

What a joke...

Rebecca and Sue are very much correct. The enemy who swindles us and betrays us with a stab in the back in the back is far more dangerous than the enemy who holds a weapon and says 'I'm goona be mean." You can see that kind of bigot coming a mile away and dig a trench or pretend to be a tactical nuclear weapon or whatever works. And the truth is that while we’re not there yet the news on samesex marriage and the polls indicate that we may be turning a corner in that battle thanks to groups like UnitedENDA, Lambda Legal and the NLGTF and lots of others.

But we have not won the battle against the other kind of bigot, the backstabber. That won’t happen until after the 2008 elections. Then double-crossers like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein will be exposed. And so will that guy who claims he's for us but is a friend of pigs like Donnie McClurkin and sows like Mary Mary and that fraud who pretends to be on our side but opposes socialized medicine and who sat on the Wal-Mart Board of Directors for years.

The people who will vote for the Democrats (sic) in 2008 are far to the left of the owners of that party, and it will begin to splinter and break up. That will mean we're turning the corner in the battle with the backstabbers.

Shari Miller | January 22, 2008 2:28 AM

I was in the large banquet room when Mr. Solomonese made his infamous statement, and it has been quoted innumerable times.

I, like many others, feel personally betrayed by his backtracking on what he said, but in my opinion, I would suggest the time is rapidly approaching when we need to put that behind us, stop shouting obscenities, and engage in meaningful dialogue.

I'm not saying we should either forgive or forget his reversal of position, but we won't convince him of the correctness of our position by shouting. I think it will have quite the opposite effect. If those in leadership positions in Trans-advocacy organizaitons are unable to communicate with HRC and its leadership, we should simply ignore HRC and let it go its own way. Eventually they will feel it in their pocketbooks when the trans community and its allies stop contributing to their coffers.

Read Dr King's Letter from Birmingham Jail Joe. Here, I'll quote what he said:

For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
...
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate... who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
Ring any bells, Joe? Something about "coming back later", "when the time is ripe"? How can you talk about "GLBT solidarity" after ENDA?

Enough. Thou hast been weighed in the balance, and are found wanting.

"Always keep your friends close, but your enemies keep closer." - J. Wallace Day -

We are being assulted from all sides. HRC has made us leary of those who say they are on our side. UnitedENDA gave a us a clear picture of who are indeed our friends. Let's keep them close.

HRC is not our friend. They stabbed us in the back when our attention was elsewhere. It is true that we already know where the Religious Right stands, and we can put HRC in their ranks. Keeping HRC closer means we will be ready, as we have been when they tried to evoke the legacy of Dr. King. I love Monica Robert's replay to that on her blog.

We are also have to be careful of being attacked from within. Transsexual elitists, mostly consisting of MtF post-ops, are providing our enemies with a great deal of propaganda to use against us.

Their hatred toward other gender-different people feed words to the Religious Right that end up in their articles against us. And, many who cannot live up to their narrow standards of being a woman have attempted or committed suicide. Yet, they think that because they identify as being straight and have a vagina, it makes them immune to the hatred from outside. Trust me, a bullet doesn't care if you have a new vagina or that you date men. The real world doesn't work that way.

I feel that it is important to note here that Dr. King was not in favor of fighting for gay rights and, in fact, suggested a policy of gradual moves to include our community. He espoused the same type of gradualism that Barney Frank did for the trans community.

As far as the who's worst HRC or the Religious Right debate, I'll just point out that the Religious Wrong actively works to strip us of what rights we do have - our families (adoption and parental rights), our lives (hate crimes), our employment (civil rights) and our homes (civil rights). HRC ditched the trans community in one bill in Congress.

Horrible. Yes. But NOTHING compared the billions the right has spent on demonizing and demoralizing our community. It's not HRC trying to pass constitutional amendments...

I can understand still being pissed off at HRC. That's a given. But the hyperbole and overstatement doesn't help.

I'm reminded of a phrase I use with a lot of local activists who spend a lot of time back biting and working against each other... "Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't always make them an enemy. Sometimes they're just a friend that you have a disagreement with."

I'll also throw out here that you're setting up a no-win situation for HRC. Would you rather that they have remained silent on MLK Day and not stood by the African-American community to recognize the needed demise of racism? Would it have made you (or any of the commenters) feel better if HRC had thrown the black community under the bus like they did the trans community? Would it make everything all right?

If not, then why the sour grapes post demonizing them for standing up for equality? While it's fine to continue the beef with HRC - and I still hold that they were wrong to start with - it's not okay to use the African-American community as some sort of "You fucked us over so you can't be good to anyone else" litmus test.

There seems to be some here who embrace the flawed concept that you can do business with someone you cannot trust. I would suggest in the following order...

fifteen minutes of fresh air.

2 B Complex vitamins with a glass of good non fluoridated water.

Lastly reexamine your position and reconsider this low life bottom feeding peace of white trash cannot be trusted.

Take care
Sue

Bil,
I think the Monica Robert's viewpoint on HRC's MLK comments are fare more relivant then us white folk, wouldn't you say?

http://transgriot.blogspot.com

It's not okay to use the African-American community as some sort of "You fucked us over so you can't be good to anyone else" litmus test.

Bil, you accuse Rebecca of hyperbole and overstatement, and then reduce her concerns to such a ridiculous statement? This comment definitely isn't helping anything either. It's obvious that wasn't what Rebecca was doing, and in fact it doesn't even make sense.

But I do like that you pointed this out:

I feel that it is important to note here that Dr. King was not in favor of fighting for gay rights and, in fact, suggested a policy of gradual moves to include our community.

Not because I think it validates Barney Frank, but because it shows how difficult building a broadbased social justice movement is and always has been.

Bill,
I think you have hit it dead center with these two statements.

"Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't always make them an enemy. Sometimes they're just a friend that you have a disagreement with."

"If not, then why the sour grapes post demonizing them for standing up for equality? While it's fine to continue the beef with HRC - and I still hold that they were wrong to start with - it's not okay to use the African-American community as some sort of "You fucked us over so you can't be good to anyone else" litmus test."

Things don't happen over night. It will take time to get the laws to where they need to be.

Something that had occurred to me...
HRC is not needed, activists in each state can work to get TG rights legislation passed in their own states. If they want help they can work with TS provided they are willing to help TS with their legislative needs.(New Birth Certificates for Post-Op girls and guys)

With most of the states having passed civil rights laws on their own HRC would not have a monopoly on national TG rights. The only reason they do is because activists let them. United ENDA has shown that there are something on the order of 300 organizations in favor of TG rights. If they were to get organized United ENDA would have a lot more weight to throw around then HRC does.

So what are you guys waiting for...
In the end the TS separatist movement will take a significant share of support away from the TG rights movement, it's not just HRC that wants the TG community fragmented, most post-transition females don't identify with TG folk to begin with.

I guess the TG movement is like the dog in an abusive family She gets the crap beat out of her but when the day is over she sleeps with the same abusive master.


Have a nice day folks and do think about where your allegiance really should lie.


Sue


Sue,
What planet do you live on? Two-thirds of the states will NEVER have rights for any GLB people, much less trans people. Being post-op doesn't somehow change their minds. I live in Georgia, and we don't even have a hate crimes bill at all, for ANY catagory. Nadda. Zippo. None.

The bigots in the state assembly want to figure out ways to beat up on GLBT people rather then tackling the drought issue, poor education, traffic problems and homelessness. This is the mindset of the entire southern states, the central states, and most of the Rocky Mountain states. Some of those states don't even have GLBT equality groups, and the ones who do don't care about trans people, except here in GA. They are not able to help much here.

The only way I will ever see protection for employment and inclusion in any hate crimes legislation is to work on a federal level, which means we bump into HRC, or move to a state that actually cares, like the state you live in.

Gees. ". . . activists in each state can work to get TG rights legislation passed in their own states." Get a grip on reality, please.

First, as far as to Dr. King's opinion on LGBT rights, let's not forget that he was murdered a little more than a year before Stonewall. It was quite literally a different world for our movement and our community then. What might his opinion have been two, five, or ten years later? Of course, we'll never know for certain, but we do know that his wife, Coretta Scott King, was a staunch supporter of LGBT rights and said it was in keeping with her husband's beliefs (sorry, I don't have an actual quote handy...anyone?).

Second, HRC is not our friend. A friend doesn't act like HRC does toward gender-variant Americans and still have the right to be called a friend.

They screwed us over in 2004, so we went out and protested them and caused a huge stink that resulted in a large community backlash against them. So, they promised us they wouldn't do it anymore. For three and a half years, they insisted that promise was as a good as gold. Many activists in our community began working with them because they felt HRC could be trusted to keep its word.

Then last year, the moment that promise was tested in even the smallest way, the very first time HRC was called upon to really stand up for us and their promises to our community, HRC immediately folded and sold us out to those who would discriminate against us in order to gain rights and privilege for people like those who make up their Executive Board.

They didn't come to us and explain, they didn't apologize, they didn't make an effort to help in other ways. They used their own power and influence to to help the Congressional leadership cut us off at the knees politically as soon as they were asked to do so.

They did so behind our backs at first, lying repeatedly to the entire community about what they were doing and why they were doing it. Then, once the truth came to light publicly, they continued lying and misrepresenting the facts, releasing bogus polling results and claiming to have redefined their position to one of non-support either way.

In reality, however, they were actively working with Congressional leaders to promote legislation that leaves us behind, even to the point of threatening legislators with a lower score on their Congressional scorecard in order to influence Members to turn their backs on gender-variant Americans and support the crippled, elitist version of ENDA.

Even now, not only do they refuse to apologize for what they did, they are continuing to do it. Are these the actions of people and an organization who can be defined as friends to our community? Personally, I don't think so.

HRC is not a friend we have a disagreement with, they are our enemy, one which is actively and enthusiastically working directly against our interests in order to gain advantage for themselves and those like themselves, even more actively and aggressively than the right-wing.

And that, right there, is the bottom line: HRC has chosen to not to take the side of the poor and disenfranchised, but rather to side with our oppressors and help them to continue oppressing us.

Call it a hunch if you will, but I don't believe Dr. King would have approved.

you know Monica your issues with those of us who are Post-Transition if set aside would make for a more effective argument. As usual that is the first thing out of your mouth....

I don't know what planet Your on However i am on Earth you know the third rock from that big fire ball in the sky.

If you work with those states you can get civil rights for TG's. It could even happen in Texas, Been there the climate is just about ripe for it.

If you think you have to buddy up with your boyfriend Joe at HRC to get anywhere then i guess it is not going to happen now is it.

Joe has demonstrated he is not interested in TG rights.

Oh well,
Sue

Monica, when you said

Two-thirds of the states will NEVER have rights for any GLB people, much less trans people. Being post-op doesn't somehow change their minds. I live in Georgia, and we don't even have a hate crimes bill at all, for ANY catagory. Nadda. Zippo. None.

Georgia has had a very fundamental piece of trans-friendly legislation since 1982. 1982 Ga. Acts No. 1216, §1 in fact. Passed without any help whatsoever from the GLB mainstream.

This guff about "hanging on coat-tails" and "Trans-jacking" flies in the face of the facts, that TS people have been quietly working behind the scenes for their own benefit, and with some success, for decades. GLB-only Activism has been, if anything, counter-productive. A few states have had trans-friendly legislation overturned as the result of the backlash against same-sex marriage.

Please read http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/DeakinLRev/2004/21.html#Heading602

What was shocking to many, and what will always make Littleton stand out as a landmark decision, albeit a negative one, is that it was apparently the first instance of any court in the United States citing the federal DOMA to invalidate a marriage that had been assumed by all involved - not simply the parties themselves but those with whom they interacted and even at least one arm of state government - to be a legal heterosexual, opposite-sex marriage. As the words of a song that was popular earlier that year had intoned, ‘The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on an idle Tuesday.’ So it was with Littleton v Prange when the Texas transsexual community learned of the case that fall, and saw themselves dropped into a battle that not only had not been of their making but was one that they had had no input in whatsoever: the modern push for same-sex marriage.
Read the opinions in Schroer vs Library of Congress, where the dropping of trans-rights from ENDA has pursuaded the court that trans-people are deliberately excluded from Title VII legislation, contrary to the view the court held before then.

It's not that the HRC's GLB-only agenda isn't advancing trans-rights, it actively works against them. To some this appears to be a feature, not a bug.

The splits within the Transgender section - between the Transsexual and the male Crossdressing majority - are another contentious issue, and one I don't want to get into. It's too difficult differentiating "Transgenderists" in the Virgina Prince sense of the word, from TS people in denial. When the vast majority of TGs see no need for medical and marital issues to be addressed, as it doesn't affect them, it makes the whole situation even more vexed.

Zoe
Good reply,

Marriage has not been an issue for many of us.
we can marry if we want (in some states) and tie up the property in a trust or other legal instrument that cannot be undone. (no how, no way) Smart heterosexuals do this all the time if they have more then a pot to relieve themselves in.

Thankfully in this country there is an active and growing separatist movement among TS and HBS identified women and men. This is the only way some of the damage the SSM movement can be undone. Education and a growing body of physical evidence suporting transsexualism should in a few years turn the tide.
Transsexualism and intersexism are legitimate medical disorders.
Everyone deserves equal rights but not at the expense of another group.


Take care
Sue

Monica, when you said

Two-thirds of the states will NEVER have rights for any GLB people, much less trans people. Being post-op doesn't somehow change their minds. I live in Georgia, and we don't even have a hate crimes bill at all, for ANY catagory. Nadda. Zippo. None.

Georgia has had a very fundamental piece of trans-friendly legislation since 1982. 1982 Ga. Acts No. 1216, §1 in fact. Passed without any help whatsoever from the GLB mainstream.

This guff about "hanging on coat-tails" and "Trans-jacking" flies in the face of the facts, that TS people have been quietly working behind the scenes for their own benefit, and with some success, for decades. GLB-only Activism has been, if anything, counter-productive. A few states have had trans-friendly legislation overturned as the result of the backlash against same-sex marriage.

Please read http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/DeakinLRev/2004/21.html#Heading602

What was shocking to many, and what will always make Littleton stand out as a landmark decision, albeit a negative one, is that it was apparently the first instance of any court in the United States citing the federal DOMA to invalidate a marriage that had been assumed by all involved - not simply the parties themselves but those with whom they interacted and even at least one arm of state government - to be a legal heterosexual, opposite-sex marriage. As the words of a song that was popular earlier that year had intoned, ‘The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on an idle Tuesday.’ So it was with Littleton v Prange when the Texas transsexual community learned of the case that fall, and saw themselves dropped into a battle that not only had not been of their making but was one that they had had no input in whatsoever: the modern push for same-sex marriage.
Read the opinions in Schroer vs Library of Congress, where the dropping of trans-rights from ENDA has pursuaded the court that trans-people are deliberately excluded from Title VII legislation, contrary to the view the court held before then.

It's not that the HRC's GLB-only agenda isn't advancing trans-rights, it actively works against them. To some this appears to be a feature, not a bug.

The splits within the Transgender section - between the Transsexual and the male Crossdressing majority - are another contentious issue, and one I don't want to get into. It's too difficult differentiating "Transgenderists" in the Virgina Prince sense of the word, from TS people in denial. When the vast majority of TGs see no need for medical and marital issues to be addressed, as it doesn't affect them, it makes the whole situation even more vexed.

Pardon my hiccups.

The trouble is... that I've seen far too much inhumanity to GLBs not to be in favour of them having the same legal rights as str8 de-facto relationships. Those in Australia means all the rights of registered married couples. YMMV in different jurisdictions of course, and if so, the whole thing needs looking at.

I can't not be in favour of GLB rights. It's a human rights issue. Even if it hurts us. I just wish the true situation was acknowledged, and that the HRC would stop pretending they were GLBT and not just GLB. I might even support them then, if only for the sake of the many lesbian couples I know.

Then there's the little matter of the 300+ mainly GLB only groups that supported us anyway. I can't betray them. Even if it hurts us in the short term. Or I'd be no better than the HRC, would I?

And a FYI to the person who assumed that MLK would be against gay rights.

One of Dr. King's trusted advisors was Bayard Rustin. Rustin introduced Dr. King to Gandhi's non-violent techniques, helped him organize the SCLC and was the principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington.

There were others in Dr. King's inner leadership circle who wanted hit to drop Rustin because he was gay but he refused to do so.