Adam Polaski

6 GLAAD Board Members Resign; Coronado Remains

Filed By Adam Polaski | June 22, 2011 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: Barrios, FCC letters, GLAAD, Politico, resignations, Troup Coronado

GLAADAT&T.jpgAs the fall-out from GLAAD's endorsement of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger continues, six GLAAD board members have resigned from the organization. On Tuesday, they filed a joint resignation letter that cited "various reasons" for their departures.

Their resignations join that of Jarrett Barrios, former president of GLAAD who resigned on Saturday after the LGBT blogosphere, led by The Bilerico Project and Michelangelo Signorile, pressured him to leave. Barrios had lied about the origin of a letter that GLAAD submitted to the FCC that opposed net neutrality; while Barrios blamed "administrative error," it turned out that the letter was drafted wholly by AT&T.

Politico reported on yesterday's six resignations using a source "familiar with the matter." Several of the former board members, Politico reported, left because of GLAAD's failure to uphold its conflict of interest standards and failure to protect Barrios.

Gary Bitner, who spoke with The Bilerico Project earlier this month regarding the dust-up on The Signorile Show that provoked the current controversy, was one of the six resignations. He asserted that his own departure was not associated with Barrios and instead suggested, rather unconvincingly, that this was a convenient time to lighten his workload. He told Politico via email:

Jarrett Barrios was an extraordinary leader at GLAAD, and my resignation had nothing to do with his fine work. ... A number of other factors were involved, chief among them the huge time commitment.

The six board members who resigned are Gary Bitner, Randi Weingarten, Jocelyn Bramble, Kelly Dermody, Humberto Mata, and James Walker. The current list of board members, which now stands at 23 (including officers) is available here, while the former board is available here. Politico reported that further resignations are likely:

The resignations of six prominent GLAAD board members comes as a blow to the organization and may be followed by additional departures from the gay and lesbian advocacy group. The person familiar with the resignations said about a third or half of the board may leave the organization by the end of the week.

You'll notice that Troup Coronado, the man at the center of all of the AT&T controversy, is not included on the list of resignations. Coronado is a former "LGBT organizational liaison" for AT&T who was responsible for seeking LGBT support for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. Coronado distributed the request from AT&T to get the support of LGBT organizations. He is not currently taking phone calls from the media.

Coronado's role in the controversy is increasingly scandalous. This morning Phil Reese at The Washington Blade revealed that Coronado previously held a position at the Heritage Foundation, an anti-gay, ultra-conservative organization.

After an investigation into Coronado's past, the Blade has discovered that a Troup Coronado who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin the same year as AT&T's Coronado, and whom an anonymous source confirmed is the same person, appeared in several CSPAN videos from 1991-1993 as a representative of the anti-gay conservative think-tank the Heritage Foundation. Jeremy Hooper of the GoodAsYou blog was able to identify several instances of media outlets covering the Heritage Foundation opposition to pro-LGBT legislation in the 1980s and 1990s, and Heritage has been vocal in opposing same-sex marriage over the past decade. The CSPAN video gives Coronado's title at the organization as Director of the New Majority Project.

Coronado's actions have made a mockery of the LGBT community. He has sold out the organizations for which he has served on the board and has seriously damaged GLAAD's reputation. It is disgraceful that a man who has so blatantly used LGBT organizations to advance the goals of a corporation like AT&T continues to sit on the GLAAD board while other members resign. The remaining GLAAD board members should remove Coronado from his position.

According to Politico, the rest of the GLAAD board will meet by phone today to discuss the various controversies that have plagued the organization this week.

Update, 1:15 p.m.: Randi Weingarten was immediately unavailable for an interview, but her assistant director at the American Federation of Teachers sent along a statement from Weingarten. The joint statement was also the response from Kelly Dermody and Humberto Mata, while Gary Bitner referred me to his statement to Politico, quoted above. The joint statement:

I have submitted my resignation from the board of directors of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Five other board members also resigned. They are Gary Bitner, Humberto Mata, Kelly Dermody, Jim Walker and Jocelyn Bramble.

Each of us resigned individually--for various reasons, which we will not comment upon publicly, as there already has been too much unfair and false information spread about GLAAD in the last two weeks.

We believe that GLAAD plays a vital role in our community and wish it only the best. We also thank GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios for his service and the 20-plus years he has committed to social justice and the LGBT community. He still has a wonderful career ahead of him.

Catch up on the controversy with additional coverage from The Bilerico Project:

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Don't let the door hit you on the way out. :)

It is insane that Coronado has yet to step down! Of course GLAAD's best and brightest will keep leaving in droves until he does. Unless my math is off, it is still happening because the lists you provide of board members show a difference of 7, not 6.

I think all the current board members should be forced out and either dissolve Glaad or appoint a new board. A new board that is more equally balanced between L-G-B and TS/Tg. Jennifer Finney Boylan as far as I know is the only T person on the board. I think if organizations like GLAAD are going to claim to represent all T people they ought to have at least two heterosexual TS people on their board one male and one female.Its time to either end the MYTH that the LGBT represents heterosexual TS and TG peoples best interests or its time for the LGBT to quit discriminating against them and show adequate representation of them on boards and in organizations at all levels. Discrimination is discrimination it doesn't matter if it is straight towards LGBT or LGBT towards Straight its the same thing.

But do keep in mind that oppression and discrimination are not the same thing, and it is oppression which is the fundamental lever in play: there is an unequal balance of power between het folks and LGB folks (trans or not), and het folks in that case are in the seat of oppression and being resisted (again, trans or not).

Oppression requires social power in order to function, and het people (trans or not) on that stage have more social power than LGB people -- so what you are, in that sense, asking people to do is to enable the oppressors to aid them in efforts to end their oppression.

Fundamentally, het folks cannot be oppressed by LGB folks, so in that sense, one is not the same as the other. If it were, then I wouldn't be legally able to put an ad in the paper right now saying I'll only hire tans people, and cis people need not apply.

(Which isn't saying I disagree with you, mind you, merely pointing out something triggered by your last line. My board is composed of a wide variety of people, although I am actively seeking to find a cis Lesbian (ideally a woman of color) at this time to join the board to join the heterosexual trans folks (one M, one W) the cis gay white male, the cis het white woman, and the multi ethnic bisexual trans person that are all on the board right now.)

Oppression requires social power in order to function

I don't think that is entirely accurate. I would say systemic and social oppression as a whole requires social power in order to function. Power differentials, however, exist independently in many instances that provide exceptions to the rule.

What Lisa is suggesting, however, is indicative of the difficulties involved in speaking for a groups such as transgender and transsexual people. GLAAD has done a very poor job of that, up until now. Yet, there is a very strong need to protect various groups from defamation. There has been no recognition on the part of GLAAD regarding the complexities involved with the portion of the population they seek to represent who are not gay or lesbian. Jenny Boylan presents very interesting problems, in my opinion. In many ways my situation is more similar to hers than Lisa's. GLAAD, however, insists that it represents Lisa. I would say the assumptions made by their representation of her is arrogant. I would say the arrogance has an impact on how Lisa is perceived as a woman or not as a woman. I would say that is oppressive. Does GLAAD see Jenny Boylan as a lesbian because of her relationship or as "het"? My feeling is that, because of Jenny Boylan's position in the world, which is much different than mine in many ways as it is similar, would have much to lose if she came out in strident opposition to GLAAD's policies regarding their nomenclature regarding post transsexual women in relationship to their "transgender spectrum".

The question of silencing dissident voices among post transsexual people is shown in new light with all the revelations regarding GLAAD's stand, or former stand, on net neutrality and the effect it could have on public discourse. The irony is not lost on me. Talk about manufactured consent . . .