Kate Kendell

Maintaining a Unified Front

Filed By Kate Kendell | April 15, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Florida, Gainesville, gay rights, Iowa, LGBT community, NCLR, unified front, Vermont, Washington, Washington D.C.

In light of the recent good news out of Vermont, Iowa, Washington D.C., Washington state, and the city of Gainesville, Florida, I've been reflecting about the values of our community and the goals of our movement. As a progressive, feminist organization, NCLR was founded on an understanding that an injury to one is an injury to all. I am proud to lead an organization that is committed to protecting every person's right to dignity, autonomy, and self-determination.

Based on these deeply held values, we have advocated for the freedom to form families and relationships, to live and express oneself in accordance with one's gender identity, and to be free from discrimination and violence based on who we are or who we associate with . These core values are reflected in the breadth of work we do, ranging from our Family Protection Project to our Transgender Law Project.


Our community is at a moment where great positive change is happening, but no gain is easily won--or kept. There are many efforts at the local and national level to strip away crucial protections and undermine our hard earned protections for all members of the LGBT community. Proposed Amendment 1 in Gainesville, Florida, which, if passed, would have eliminated existing protections for the LGBT community, is a perfect example.

Thanks to the tireless and united efforts of many community organizers, Gainesville's citizens overwhelmingly rejected this hateful amendment. We should celebrate and learn from this victory, but we must not be complacent. Now, more than ever, we must stay committed to maintaining a principled, unified front in the face of an aggressive and well-funded opposition.

Our opponents are trying to drive a wedge into our community and stall the movement we have been building. As we saw in Gainesville, they are attempting to roll back protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by using bald-faced lies and outrageous scare tactics attacking the humanity and dignity of our transgender brothers and sisters. By singling out transgender members of our community, they are hoping we will splinter as a movement. We cannot let them succeed.

Mahatma Gandhi once said "Unity, to be real, must stand the severest strain without breaking." We have a long road ahead, and our commitment to maintaining a unified front will be tested many times. We will not back down or allow our opposition to divide us. At this season of renewal and new beginnings, let this stand as a resolution: we will not turn our back on any member of our community. Our strength is in our unity, and our unity is real.

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Brad Bailey | April 15, 2009 8:07 PM

Well-said, Ms. Kendell. I whole-heartedly agree.

Well said.
Speaking personally, as a lesbian married to a transwoman: Thank you for the work your wonderful organization is doing, from the bottom of our hearts.

Thank you, Ms. Kendell, your commitment is very appreciated.

Hear, hear. I also think we need to look at two aspects of this: creating and maintaining unity within our community, and conveying to allies and potential allies why it is that we stand united.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | April 16, 2009 3:35 PM

The fight for same sex marriage will continue because it has a momentum of its own. In the past that was determined by the religious right's use of it as a wedge. Now the fight for SSM is clearly a mass movement with formidable support and organizing potential. It’s one of the power bases of the fight for equality.

I think that our movement, including our legal defense organizations should try to publicly shift the emphasis to the fight for ENDA and hate crimes. Nothing will get done unless we put irresistible pressure on Congress and the White House.

Hate crimes and anti-discrimination laws should be centerpieces of our movement along with SSM. The current ENDA is a result of Frank’s desperate appeasement of the right in his own party and among Republicans. Our fight should be for the original ENDA. We should forthrightly condemn attacks on transfolks as bigotry.

Also, now is the time to go on the offensive using the legal tactics of SPLC to go after groups who incite violence and to end tax write offs and 'faith based' bribes of cults who violate separation of church and state.

I disagree. Religion is too powerful in this country, and going after its tax status would generate a backlash. People might ask if we're doing it from sour grapes. It's also not relevant to our core issues. Many gay folk seeth with hatred for christianity, but we shouldn't let them derail our strategy.

It would not be a good idea for LGBT people alone to go after the tax status of churches. But a broad coalition of groups should do it.

The churches have way too much power, because of their untaxed status and all the money they can pile up. It's past time for a level playing field to be created, politically, where the churches can't outspend everybody else on political campaigning.