Rebecca Juro

The Tide Is Turning

Filed By Rebecca Juro | February 25, 2008 9:09 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, The Movement, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Democrats, ENDA, HRC, LGBT, politics, transgender

New York's Gay City News is reporting that over fifty people protested outside the Human Rights Campaign's annual Midtown Manhattan Dinner this Saturday, and that the event was snubbed by every single gay, lesbian, and bisexual elected official in New York City.

The motivation, of course, is HRC's continuing support of the crippled, elitist, and discriminatory version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which passed the House last November. What's most interesting here, however, is that it seems that it's no longer simply fair-minded and supportive LGBT activists who are refusing to play along with HRC's divisive political games, but that now the organization and their elitist bigotry has become so politically unpopular to so many Democrats that even politicians, who often seem deaf, or at least unmoved by the interests of minorities as small as transgender and gender-variant people, are choosing to make a statement in not endorsing HRC's divisive politics by showing up for their events.

Of course, this is New York City, one of the most socially and politically diverse and liberal places in the country. Only a fool would extrapolate this one event in this one city as evidence of a national turnaround in terms of how HRC is seen in political circles. And yet, it's a start.

Several local politicians and political players have come out strongly against HRC, including Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council and an out lesbian, who many believe will likely become New York's next mayor. While attributing Quinn's absence from the event as due to scheduling conflicts, her spokesperson also added in an email to Gay City News that Quinn "...has also made clear that she was very disappointed that the action taken by Congress with the Employment and Non-Discrimination Act did not include gender identity. Moreover, the Speaker is stunned that the Human Rights Campaign is penalizing those Congressmembers who support a pro-LGBT agenda, and who voted against the Act because it didn't include transgenders. The Speaker applauds her colleagues from New York -- Congressmembers Clarke, Nadler, Towns, Velazquez, and Weiner -- for their stand.".

Other pols of note not attending the HRC dinner included Quinn's expected rivals in the NYC Mayoral race, city Comptroller William Thompson and Congressman Anthony Weiner, who voted against the crippled version of ENDA in the House and made an impassioned speech on the floor of the House in support of the inclusion of gender identity protections in the bill.

And hey, let's at least give Joe Solmonese some credit. At least he had the courage to say something in defense of the sellout tactics employed by himself and his organization this time that amounted to at least slightly more than "Trust us, we're HRC and we know best.".

"I have to ask myself: When did we all become so impatient? When did we say to ourselves, okay that civil rights thing, I'll give it a year, maybe two, then I'm done," Solmonese said at the dinner, "Let me be very clear: No, we are not done. We are in the grueling, blinding middle of this fight and the middle of this fight is the hardest part."

Well, at least Solmonese is finally standing up for himself and his organization. Too bad he still refuses to do so for non-martini-drinking, non-wealthy, non-white, non-conventionally gendered LGBT Americans HRC claims to be fighting for.

Make no mistake, boys, girls, and everyone else: This is war, and it's a war which those who are truly on the side of American justice and equality are going to win. The tide is turning, and it's people like us who are turning it. While some might be loathe to bring Presidential politics into this fight, we can't escape the correlation here. As the candidate of change soars past the candidate of politics as usual, toward the Democratic nomination and eventually to the Presidency, so too do our own political fortunes rise along with Barack Obama's as HRC's are falling right along with Senator Clinton's. It's not at all a coincidence that those who would compromise the ideal of equality for all Americans for their own political convenience like Barney Frank and most of the HRC Executive Board are working for the Clinton campaign.

If you still need more proof, you're getting it now. For those who believe that we need civil rights laws that protect every American right now, not when it might be politically convenient years from now or even decades from now, there can be only one real choice for President, and it certainly isn't Hillary Clinton.

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Michael Bedwell | February 25, 2008 9:21 PM

The tide isn't turning. There are simply more turds floating in the tide pool.

We will have to see what happens....
I am not convinced the tide is turning.
It's not that easy to push a multi-million dollar lobbying organization into the direction a coalition of groups may want it to go in.

It's too early to tell.

Take care

So far:

- Austin HRC Dinner - attendance down.

- Philadelphia HRC Dinner - attendance down.

- Phoenix HRC Dinner - attendance down.

- Charlotte HRC Dinner - attendance down.

- NYC HRC Dinner - attendance down.

Too early to tell? So, what dinner is next?

I'd hate to think that Joe and the people running HRC are so dense that they cannot seem to get the message yet. You reap what you sow.


If there is one lesson from the Civil Rights Movement that you need to grasp, it's this:

When you have the moral high ground, ANYTHING is possible.

There were people back in the day that didn't think that nonviolent action would topple Jim Crow segregation either.

Joe Solmonese and his HRC rockheads are going to be the latest peeps to learn the hard way that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

I'm afraid I can't take the final leap that you do having Clinton as guilty by association with some HRC types, or that Obama is above the politics of compromise.

Clinton has come out on the record for a trans-inclusive ENDA, and I'm sure that she has GLBT supporters who are also for an inclusive ENDA. And undoubtedly, Obama has supporters who oppose an inclusive ENDA.

However, if you think Obama wouldn't make a politically expedient decision, I think you'll be quite disappointed. He has opposed marriage equality with extremely flimsy reasoning. I think it's fair to say that if his position was based only on merit, he would be supporting it. And of course there was the Donnie M. incident, where he wouldn't disinvite him. That was also likely because of political necessity.

You don't get to be POTUS without compromise. And since Obama's campaign theme is bringing people together, he has already signalled that his preference will be compromise. While unity is generally desirable, it often comes at the cost of principle.

Hmm, for his next trick I guess Obama is going to walk on water while turning it to wine, or something like that.

All Obama has proven thus far is that he has very good speech writers and can remember his lines.

Maybe he should have been nominated for an Oscar.

Talking about change is all very well and good, but if you do not have the experience to know how things work, so you can pinpoint what needs changing, it is just empty words.

This is a critical juncture in our nations history, We are near the end of one of the most disastorous administrations to ever occupy the white house. Our economy is in shambles due in part to the greed and arrogance of our leaders and their cronies in the corporate world, we have multiplied the number of enemies we face by an ill-concieved and poorly planned war, we face an enviromental catastrophe because Bush and company chose to ignore and downplay the damage we are doing to the world, just so they could squeeze a few more dollars out for profits.

If I believed that Obama had the needed skill and experience to steer us towards a better path, I would have been more than happy to vote for him. I almost did in fact, but in the end, I could not overlook the fact that he just has not been around long enough to have a firm grasp on the issues and problems we are facing.

Wow - from HRC's dinner to HRC's campaign - while throwing in a pump for Obama. This didn't end up where it began! LOL

Reformed Ascetic | February 26, 2008 9:38 AM

With all due respect, I simply don't believe that the politicians who voted against ENDA did so out of a great respect for transgender rights. They chose a politically expedient out. They get to play both sides by telling some audiences that they are on record voting against ENDA and others that their conscience demanded that they postpone a yea vote until all members of the LGBT community were covered. The truth is that conservatives were overjoyed that our community split over this issue, and you can bet that they will employ this strategy again in the future.

The people who would deny our civil rights are not interested in reasoned arguments. If they were, this struggle would have been over long ago. Every civil rights struggle in America has a history of incrementalism. It is a simple fact that America is not going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly realize that they have been acting out of fear and prejudice. We will be spending years more educating the public, easing their fears and making gains where we can. There may be times when we manage great gains, but there is no chance of accomplishing everything at once.

I don't know Joe Solmonese. I don't know what kind of person he is in private, but I find calling him an elitist unproductive. There is every reason to believe the HRC is trying its best to carry the cause of the entire LGBT community forward. Neither do I know Barney Frank. Does he have a history of compromise positions? Yes, he does. He also gets things done, and then continues the fight for more. Certainly no one is required to like everything he has done, but he will go down in history as a hero of the LGBT community. Eating our own serves none of us.

Should I view the transgender people who consider themselves straight traitors to the rest of the community? Have those transgender people who have achieved full legal recognition of their gender status, including the right to marry, turned their backs on the rest of community? I have never felt so. I was proud that such large numbers of the LGB people stood up to try to support their transgender brothers and sisters, but I firmly believe that getting ENDA passed would have been good for the entire community. Even if it had ended in a presidential veto. Getting it passed would have made future gains easier, just as our past accomplishments have brought us to this point.

I honestly believe all the reasonable leaders of the LGBT community understand how important it is to fight for the entire community. I believe everyone understands that until equality for all has been accomplished we are all vulnerable. However, if you would blame such leaders for trying to obtain a gain through compromise, how can you support any of the current crop of politicians. At least Hillary has flatly stated what she honestly believes can be accomplished, and acknowledged that we can of course continue to seek progress from there. If Barack wins the nomination and the presidency, I sincerely hopes he lives up to his rhetoric. Keep in mind though that however progressive he may be on LGBT issues, it stops far short of full justice and equality. Either he is being politically expedient as well, or he fails to understand the simple logic of civil equality.

You are right that those fighting for justice and equality will, in the end, be victorious. However, it won't be in 2009, or even 2013. We can only hope that things will be better, but to believe the struggle will be over anytime soon ignores how other civil rights struggles have progressed. Choosing to accomplish nothing because you can't accomplish everything is self-defeating.


Don't expect any change with Hill-Dog.
She represents the same interests who want to
perpetuate the war. A vote for Clinton is a vote for eight more years of Bush. You are correct Oboma doesn't heave the experience, however the Clinton's are up to their eyes in special interests, bought and paid for by the same people who brought you the Georges...

Monica R;
It would be nice to be living back in the day when having the moral high ground was worth something. I am afraid these days that high ground holds only a fraction of the value it did back in the day.


Monica Helms
Give it a year after the election to see if the inclusive ENDA coalition still has an effect on HRC. I bet it won't, I don't see any follow up by these groups to maintain momentum. I am not seeing any activism here just a few groups who threw a rock at HRC and walked away with the delusion the job is done. You of all people should know activism requires constant pressure to be effective even after an apparent goal has been reached. This coalition suffers from the same thing many activists suffer from, no long term goals or road map.

Back to my coffee..
Take care

There is every reason to believe the HRC is trying its best to carry the cause of the entire LGBT community forward.


Exactly what are those reasons??

Rory, I don't agree with Obama on everything, and gay marriage is one of those issues I disagree with him on. That said, given the choices we have in this election, I believe he's by far the best choice and he being in the White House offers the best chance of a fully-inclusive ENDA being passed.

Bil, I think the correlation between ENDA and the campaign is valid, for the reasons I cited. I also think the way we've seen both of these candidates publicly deal with our issues during the campaign backs it up.

RA, I didn't call Solmonese an elitist in the piece (even though I do think he has proven himself richly deserving of the title), I said the
version of ENDA he and HRC are promoting is elitist and I stand by that. It's classic "fuck over the poor to pander to the rich" politics...Ronald Reagan would be proud.

I also don't buy that just because Hillary finally made a lukewarm statement supporting an inclusive ENDA the day before the most important primary of the election, the day when several of the bigger blue states she needed to win were voting, is real evidence she'd champion an inclusive version any more than Barney or HRC did. Don't forget that it was only a few days previous to that she was still completely dodging the issue, even in response to direct questioning.

And Barney gets things done? Like what? Name me one LGBT-supportive bill that has passed as the result of his efforts. Barney has a big mouth, and always, always, always, puts party before principle. Gay he may be, but he's first and foremost a politician, and his major concern is helping the Democratic Party maintain power and control. Everything else, including our rights, takes a back seat to that. Make no mistake about that.

"Rory, I don't agree with Obama on everything, and gay marriage is one of those issues I disagree with him on. That said, given the choices we have in this election, I believe he's by far the best choice and he being in the White House offers the best chance of a fully-inclusive ENDA being passed."

Rebecca, I used the example of his opposition to marriage equality to demonstrate his willingness to 'finesse' GLBT issues, not as a litmus test. I haven't seen anything that you've said here or in Obama's campaign which would support the conclusion that Obama would be any more likely to support an inclusive ENDA than Clinton.

You might think that Clinton's endorsement was lukewarm and late, but she made it and it was on the record. That's the part that counts.

"The tide isn't turning. There are simply more turds floating in the tide pool."

Half of them are purple and half of them are yellow.

"There is every reason to believe the HRC is trying its best to carry the cause of the entire LGBT community forward."

In a Texas court, this would be met with a motion for what is known as a 'no-evidence summary judgment.'

And it would be granted.

One thing i have noticed and have not commented on it until now.
HRC is going for representatives of the mainstreamed GLBT, otherwise why would they recruit Susan Stanton?

Keep in mind i don't care much for HRC maybe i see things from a different perspective.