Marti Abernathey

HRC's Bait and Switch

Filed By Marti Abernathey | November 02, 2007 10:04 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: HRC, transgender

From HRC's website:

In 31 states, it's still legal to fire someone because they're gay; in 39 states it is legal to fire someone for being transgender.

Thousands of hardworking GLBT Americans have lost their livelihoods simply because of who they are. The Human Rights Campaign is leading the charge to end this bitter injustice by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a federal bill that would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, or refuse to promote employees simply based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This historic legislation will be up for a vote in the U.S. House this month. But the radical right is flooding lawmakers with misinformation about ENDA.

You can set the facts straight. Send your lawmakers a message today. Make sure they know passing ENDA is the American thing to do!

This is the letter HRC will send to your Congressman in your name:

Unbelievable! They are passing off HR. 3685 as transgender inclusive (it's not, gender identity has NEVER been included in 3685) , and asking people to support it! So much for their claim of not supporting 3685, but not opposing it. This is FULL FRONTAL SUPPORT.

I wish the David Smith, Joe Solmonese, and the rest of the HRC crew would just be honest and have the balls to say, "WE DON'T SUPPORT YOU."

Is a duplicitous ally any better than an honest bigot? I'd rather have someone spit in my face, than smile and knife me in the back.


HRC has removed the page in question, but you can see it here

In my previous post about the Transgender Day or Remembrance, a couple of commenters said that I'm angry and that "HRC is on your side in the struggle for equality and human dignity for all persons. We are your brothers and sisters."

On my side, eh? So much for that notion.

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Their duplicity is outrageous.

I'm sure they've sent out a correction to all of the Members of Congress & people they had send those letters. Riiight.

Ultimately - this has done a great deal good. Every member of United ENDA, Members of Congress and every lgbt person who became involved in this process has had first hand experience with HRC's shameless lying and sees how ineffectual they've been. They can no longer characterize their critics as "crazy trannies" - as they've done for years. Their critics are their own Board embers, Members of Congress & Leaders of National & Statewide LGBT organizations.

You're witnessing their diminishment as the voice of our community and as an organization in progress.

People are choosing to not serve on their boards & steering committees, not fundraise for them, and their employees are seeking work elsewhere in great numbers. Word is - They have 20 positions they can't find anyone to fill.

They've separated themselves from the community and can have no pretensions to representing the majority of the community in anyone's eyes.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

There's something I'm wondering--wouldn't any consistent interpretation combination of Title IX and a sexual orientation based EDNA have to cover transgender people? What behavior or characteristics would be fireable that wouldn't either be gender discrimination or anti sexual orientation discrimination?

That's not to say what Congress is doing is acceptable, or that the double talk is good, or that explicit protections under the law aren't good. I'm just wondering what the effects of noninclusion on the law actually are, legalistically.


"The Tenth Circuit decision calls attention to the need for federal legislation prohibiting discrimination based solely on the fact that an employee is transgender." ACLU Utah commenting on Etsitty v Utah Transit Authority

Hi Marti:

Your anger is not a bad thing. No movement is effective without people with passion and fire in the belly.

As I indicated, I'm a member of the HRC and your concerns are of high interest to me. I want to know that my money is going to a group that is supportive of everyone in the LBGT community. So my question is this:

What organization do you think has most effectively brought about legislative and regulatory change on the national level?


Hi Tom,

Do you mean in general, LGBT as a whole, or transgender specific?

Every time I read one of your posts about HRC, Marti, my draw just drops. I can't believe this shit! Amazing!

Hi Sword:

I’ve always identified myself as being part of a single LGBT community. I tend to think we share so much in common and that our common enemy is hatred and bigotry. So, I want to know what organization has most effectively brought about national legislative and regulatory change for the LGBT community as a whole.

Perhaps, I’m begging the question. Is there really a single LGBT community? Should we identify as a single community?


As I indicated, I'm a member of the HRC and your concerns are of high interest to me. I want to know that my money is going to a group that is supportive of everyone in the LBGT community.

There's a whole list of them You've got 300 to choose from.

So my question is this:
What organization do you think has most effectively brought about legislative and regulatory change on the national level?

Change? What change, Tom? Name one piece of legislation that is currently on the books that HRC had a direct effect in passing. Most change is done by local groups, on the state level. So to answer your question, the folks that make up the Equality Federation have done the most.

Hi Marti:

Thanks for pointing out the Equality Federation. My partner and I are also members of Equality Florida, an organization that works for change on the state and local level in Florida. You might be interested to learn that the HRC financially supports Equality Florida, as well as local GLBT youth organizations. So, we view the HRC as doing a lot of good things.

On the national level, the HRC worked hard in getting passage of the Matthew Shepard Act and in blocking passage of the so-called "Marriage Protection Amendment." Countless other organizations and individuals were also involved in achieving these results. I think, however, it is fair to say that HRC was one of the strong voices.

I would also add that I'm on the HRC email list and frequently receive "Call to Action" emails such as the one you quote above. I never received an email from HRC requesting me to write my representative in support of HR 3685.

Maybe you can write about some of the positive things that HRC does? Again, we're all in this together. Let's build each other up; encourage one another; love on another.

"What organization do you think has most effectively brought about legislative and regulatory change on the national level?"

Well, HRC did get all wet and giggly when the anti-trans lenguage was put into the ADA, even praising it - specifically saying that it was appropriate because transvestism wasn't a disability. Will HRC take credit for the entire anti-trans clause?

Tom, I appreciate your efforts, and your task is thankless. Well nearly so, I'm giving you my thanks anyway.

I think though that your efforts are premature.

HRC's president gave a speech at "Southern Comfort", one designed to heal old and not-so-old wounds. There was a promise, a commitment to not betray TS people yet again, as had so recently been done in NY over SONDA, and so many times before.

It was 2 weeks later that the HRC started supporting a Trans-less ENDA.

Now maybe that was a pragmatic decision, the best that could be achieved. I don't think so, but it's at least arguable that it was. I wouldn't blame them for making a tough choice, had no commitment been made.

But they made a promise, a commitment, and then broke that promise at the first test, and an easy one at that. They can never be believed again. I'll repeat that:

HRC can never be believed again

If HRC from now on has a full commitment to Trans rights: if it does so for at least 5, and preferably 10 years: then maybe the trust will be restored. But we all know that's not going to happen, that HRC is GLB (no T). Not a single staff member is Trans. The "token tranny" resigned when she found out her status. She did the best she could, assumed good will, made friends, and then those friends, for the best of good, pragmatic reasons, decided she was disposable.

I'm sure they wouldn't have done it if they felt they had a choice, they'd really like to help. As long as that doesn't mean doing anything hard.

We know what the situation is now. That Trans rights will be worked for by HRC, as long as they have nothing better to do. That they will be dropped as soon as they become the slightest bit inconvenient. And that any words they say which gainsay that are pure mendacity.

It's not the pragmatism that hurt us: it was the sense of betrayal. That they didn't even think of what the effect on their credibility would be, that it didn't matter to them. That it never occurred to them to consider us at all.

Under those circumstances, I don't see your self-imposed task as being possible. I do wish you well, but I for one will never put myself in a position to be betrayed like that again. Well, not for at least 22 years. That's how long TS people have been waiting for rights in Wisconsin, the first state to give employment protection to GLBs.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 3, 2007 7:30 PM

Marti, thanks for calling the HRC out on this!!! Outrageous.