Alex Blaze

Joe's sorry

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 08, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ENDA, HRC, Joe Solmonese, Monica Helms, transgender

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Joe Solmonese has apologized for his statements that HRC would oppose any legislation that wasn't fully inclusive (via Pam). That's after the jump.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese met with a handful of transgender activists in Atlanta last week and apologized for "misspeaking" at last year's Southern Comfort conference, where he promised HRC would only support an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that included gender identity, according to people attending the meeting.[...]

Roberts said Solmonese apologized for "misspeaking" at last year's Southern Comfort Conference, where he promised HRC would only support an ENDA that included gender identity. Southern Comfort, the largest transgender conference in the nation, is held annually in Atlanta.

"He did apologize for misspeaking at Southern Comfort. But I think there was a lot of anger, disappointment and a lot of emotions for a lot of people," Roberts said of HRC's support of the sexual-orientation only ENDA. "It was very dehumanizing."

I really don't see how Joe's comments fall into the "misspeak" category. That'd be if he were speaking off-the-cuff and fumbled or if he worded something poorly and it came out ambiguously sounding like something else.

But that's not was happened, as the video shows. He spoke directly and clearly from prepared comments. And then HRC did the opposite.

Since the meeting was no-press, the Southern Voice couldn't get first-hand quotes. But here's Monica Helms, who was at the dinner but not the meeting:

I heard earlier from Betty that on Thursday, May 1st, Joe Solmonese had a meeting with a half dozen transgender people here in Georgia. I wasn't invited, nor was a few other transgender people who have worked at the national level, such as Dana Owings, Kristin Reichman and Cole Thaler from Lambda Legal. I'm willing to bet it was not accidental.

I was told that Joe "...apologized for misspeaking at Southern Comfort..." and that "...had he known what was going to have happen, he wouldn't have said what he had said."

So, had he known he'd be caught lying, he'd never have lied. Feel the love.

That's a huge part of the problem here - I think far fewer people would have had a problem with HRC's actions had they not been fund-raising about a month earlier on a promise that they didn't fulfill. I'm sure there were more than a few trans people and allies who were convinced to donate because of Joe's promise.

The article says he talked about strategies to move further forward on ENDA, but this discussion needs to be happening in a more open setting. And if he actually wants to make an apology, a closed-door meeting with a small group of transgender leaders that doesn't even include the president of TAVA, who created the Transgender Pride flag, who happens to live in that same town, isn't enough.

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Thanks for keeping the focus on this issue, Alex.

In 2009 we are going to have a Democratic President, a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House, and there is no reason why the LGBTQ community should not insist upon -- and expect -- an inclusive ENDA which protects gender identity as well as sexual orientation if we remain unified.

In the past the Democrats have blamed any progress on LGBTQ issues because of either a Republican Congress when Bill Clinton was President or a Republican President when the Democrats controlled Congress.

Now that we will enjoy Democratic control of both the Congress and the White House in 2009 -- knock on wood -- the LGBTQ community will find out exactly how much our elected representatives really support us, and they will have no wiggle room or lame excuses for a failure to pass an inclusive ENDA, repeal DADT and repeal DOMA.

I was discussing this with an astute friend who I trust greatly and he pointed out that the part about HRC supporting only a fully inclusive bill could be indeed considered "misspeaking," by HRC standards. Joe is a politican and he is an employee of HRC. You noticed he didn't get fired, so the board approved what he has done since.

However, the part of the speech that is truly a lie is the very last sentence, where he says, "We have sent that message loud and clear to the Hill." They did? When trans people did lobbying on the Hill after the Barney debachal, we were hearing over and over that HRC was silent on this issue. What Joe said was not "misspeaking." It's an out and out lie, and he knew it.

HRC should, at least, give back all the money that was donated to them as a result of JS speaking there.

A.G. Casebeer | May 8, 2008 2:43 PM

Joe didn't misspeak. Joe lied. Huge difference. Baldfaced lied, then fundraided based on his lies, it's the only reason they ever had any interest in the T community. I cannot imagine why any T person would ever give money to HRC, any more than they'd give money to Focus on the Family or the Traditional Values Coalition.

NTAC's lobbyists knew in May that being cut out of ENDA was a strong possibility. Joe had to know that by September.

Never listen to Solmonese unless you have a polygraph machine and operator present. He lies like a Persian rug.

Any T person who does business with the political side of HRC at this point, richly deserves the appellation of "sellout."

Joe's sorry. all right.

They were fundraising at SCC. No matter how you slice it, this makes the lie impossible to forget.

Joe's sorry. all right.

Monica FTW.

Yeah, he's a liar, liar, pants on fire.

So are we to understand that what Solmonese regrets is misleading us into believing that the HRC would support nothing short of full legislative inclusion for all LGBT people? By repudiating his own public statements on HRC's commitment to trans inclusion, he is confirming that the Homosexual Rights Campaign never made any such commitments in the first place.

But that's all in the past now, isn't it, Joe? Next year, we'll start fresh with new legislation and a new Congress, and everything will be different this time, and we won't be hearing any more misspoken boo boos because we all know exactly what kind of "allies" you are.

Does this mean that the HRC board "mis-voted" when they passed a resolution in 2004 pledging to support ENDA only if it included gender identity? Is this a revisionist history that says that the HRC was never committed to the trans community? I'm quite confused.

And, of course, the T community (not all of it) screwed up when they ever decided to trust HRC. But some of us never drank Appletinis. And never will.

Link to the interviews by Alternative Perspectives, Atlanta..WRFG 89.3 during the protest on saturday..May 3...outside of the Hyatt Hotel..during the HRC Dinner...

On May 13...there will be a 7:40pm..with some of the protesters...during the live broadcast 7 to 8pm... WRFG 89.3 atlanta we stream at

and May 20 is T Talk Tuesday...join in number 404 523 8989...

and Check out the Sovo article about AtlantaPride...rejecting HRC sponsorship...for the 2008 Pride Fest...

So - Joe's sorry he was caught in his lie.

OK - not an apology, but maybe he is going to make up for his words with his deeds.

Is he promising to stand by his original commitment to only supporting an inlusive enda and dealing honestly? Or is he promising to stand by HRC's curent policy of passing a non-inclusive bill?

Ah - it's the same old, same old. He'll gladly give transgender people civil rights on Thursday for a hamburger today.

Who were the trans folk he spoke to? Is the "Roberts" mentioned in the first quote, our Monica Roberts?

Cole Thaler is a complete hottie that's smarter than a whip. He should have been invited.

No. That was Jamie Roberts, a lawyer here in the Atlanta area. She is now getting her feet wet in national activism, having lobbied with NCTE in April. She has made us all proud many time in the past few years, and this was another time with Joe and at the protest.

SeaMonica, Jamie may be good, and probably belonged at that meeting. The guy from LaGender is very impressive; Tracee McDaniel has been an HRC apologist, so you knew she'd be invited. But how they have a meeting with transleaders from Atlanta, and not include you, Dana Owings, Kristin Reichman, and Cole Thaler, is attributable only to HRC's continued plan to choose the T community's leaders. HRC's leadership absolutely needs to speak to their most vocal T community detractors, in order to put this controversy to rest - then back it up with the deed of supporting nothing but a T inclusive ENDA. The history indicates that will never happen, so the
rapprochement will never happen, either. This won't be settled by June - well, maybe June of whatever year the inclusive ENDA passes.

Tracee was the one who selected who to invite at the meeting and she has always been an HRC sympathizer. That's odd for an African American trans woman. She apparently didn't want anyone she thought would be too vocal and too head-strong so she could control the meeting. Too bad she was wrong about Dee Dee, Jamie and Sir Jesse.

Still, it would have been interesting to be there. I would have given Joe a picture of Alice and even though I know he would have thrown it away, the image would be stuck in his mind.

Yeah, it might have stuck in his mind....maybe until cocktail hour, anyway. I don't think Solmonese has the capability to feel pain or hurt for long, if at all. It's our community's blessing and curse, at the same time; we care, maybe more than is good for us. Solmonese, Frank, and their friends are incapable of caring about human beings very much or for long.

HRC is a corrupt and decadent organization