Rebecca Juro

New Study Reveals Dems and HRC Still Lagging

Filed By Rebecca Juro | September 03, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Barney Frank, Congress, Democrats, ENDA, gay rights, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT civil rights, Nancy Pelosi, Pelosi, trans rights, transgender

A new study released today indicates how woefully behind the times the Democratic Congressional leadership and the Human Rights Campaign are in terms of their support for LGBT "bread and butter" issues, and most especially on workplace rights for transgender and gender variant people. Contrary to the statements of members of Congress such as Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi, and directly in opposition to the HRC this survey conducted by Harris Interactive indicates that 71% of Americans believe that transgender workers should be judged on their work performance, not their gender identity.

In comparison, those who feel gay and lesbian people should be accorded the same respect polled at only a mere 8% higher at 79%, effectively putting the lie once and for all to that old saw promoted by the Frank/Pelosi/Aravosis crowd that "straight-acting only" civil rights initiatives enjoy much more support that those inclusive of transgender people.

So now with the real truth finally on the table, we're left with reality. Since we now know that gay and lesbian rights don't have substantially more support than transgender rights as some still like to claim, we're forced to conclude that the real motivators for the support of the Democratic Congressional leadership are the two things that the transgender community will never be able to match our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers in: voting numbers and money.

The Democrats are still looking for that easy score without having to actually work for it. We saw it in the way they couldn't muster the courage to actually include any of us by name in the 2008 Democratic Party Platform, and we're seeing it right now in the way that Barney Frank and the rest of the Dem leadership are still hedging their bets by refusing to stand up and say they will fight to ensure our rights as American citizens to be protected from unjust discrimination.

Simply a mention of gender identity in the platform is nice to see but is essentially worthless without a real and specific commitment to action backing it up. In a nutshell, Democratic leaders in Congress are still running away from dealing with us just like HRC does, are still trying to sell us lies about the level of support for our basic rights under the law just like HRC does, and therefore, just like HRC, cannot be trusted to follow through on our behalf fairly and honestly.

Certainly no surprises here to be sure, but this study does provide a certain statistical validity to what many of us have been saying for years, that in the end these people really don't care about anyone or anything other than themselves, their Party, and their own money and political power, certainly not about us.

As I've written in the past, these people have been feeding us lies for years now, but it's only recently, when Joe Solmonese got up in front of a podium in front of a thousand transfolks and taught us why the Human Rights Campaign can never be trusted, that everyone else in our community is starting to understand that nothing you hear from any of these people can be accepted as truthful without deep, intensive, and constant verification. Even then any promises which might be made can be reneged upon the moment they become inconvenient, but they'll eagerly fall all over themselves to back up their lies and misrepresentations with dubious statistics and misleading public statements.

The truth telling doesn't stop there, however. This study also reveal several other interesting statistics which are at odds to varying degrees with what our "leaders" are willing to say publicly:

"Three out of four (75%) heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive leave when they lose a spouse/partner or close family member."

"More than two-thirds (68%) of heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive leave rights for family and medical emergencies as outlined in FMLA."

"(A)lmost two-thirds (64%) of heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive untaxed health benefits under federal law."

You certainly wouldn't think any of this were true if you went solely by the behavior of our "friends" in Congress, that's for sure. It's pretty clear that many of these folks are still stuck somewhere around 1975 in terms of understanding and being tuned in to what's really going on in modern LGBT America.

But gets even better:

"About two of three (65%) of gays and lesbians faced some sort of discrimination in the workplace."

"Nearly half (47%) of gays and lesbian adults heard anti-gay comments on the job."

"More than one-third (36%) of gays and lesbians say they remain closeted at work."

"One out of five (20%) gays and lesbians report being harassed on the job by co-workers."

Oh yeah, gays and lesbians are just soooooo more popularly accepted than we transfolks are... really.

Hopefully, this study and others like it will finally put the cap on the stream of lies we've been hearing from the Democrats about our basic civil rights as American citizens for decades now. If Barney and the House Dems are going to turn tail and cower under a rock when called upon to stand up for justice for transgender people, we should make certain to publicize these statistics far and wide to illustrate that it's not really the level of acceptance that's causing the Dems to refuse to stand up for real American justice, it's because we don't have the money and votes to purchase the same level of fairness and equal treatment from our federal government other citizens are extended automatically.

Yes, Barack Obama is a messenger of hope. The real problem is that the Democratic Congressional leadership routinely marks such messages "Return To Sender" when they concern LGBT people, and especially transgender people. If they want to prove to us that things have changed, one hearing isn't going to do it. After promises and more promises all suddenly just disappearing without a trace the moment they become inconvenient for cowardly do-nothing Democrats, it's no longer reasonable to take anything at all from these people simply on faith.

As always, words mean nothing here. The real proof is in the legislation itself and in the votes it receives. See that big hole in ENDA? The one Barney Frank left when he ripped hardworking, taxpaying transgender Americans out of it? See that other huge chunk gone? You know, the one that would have protected us from unjust bigotry committed by those who hide behind religion to discriminate against and disparage those unlike themselves?

That's the real Democratic Congressional leadership in action, the one behind all the politically correct rhetoric and positive words. It's important to remember that we can't believe what they tell us because if there's anything we've learned over the course of this battle it's that until a member of Congress is actually willing to back up their words with a vote it's nothing more than yet another meaningless hot air blast from DC.

We can only hope that this new study will inspire Congress to take a serious look at how they've been dealing with our issues, and how utterly antiquated their thinking is on the key political issues of our lives. I'm not holding my breath, mind you, but at least we can hope that finally we can get some real support from Congress so people like me don't have to rip them to shreds again next year for selling out us and our basic civil rights under the law for the umpteenth time.

Congress gets it. We know they get it. They know we know they get it. And now, we have the stats to back it up.

It's time to put up or shut up, Congressional Dems, because you may get through this election relatively unscathed, but if you screw us over again there will be hell to pay, and this time, we're bringing friends, lots of them, and they're a lot more powerful and influential than we are. Progressives are furious because now everyone knows how you've been treating us for years and they don't like it anymore than we do. You know the tide has turned and it's time for you to join much of the rest of the country and the western world in the 21st century in terms of LGBT rights. Get over your bigotry, get over your cowardice, stand up like the leaders you're supposed to be and do what you know needs to be done. No more bullshit, no more excuses. African-Americans had far less popular support when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, but it passed because we had a President and a Congress that made it happen because they knew it was the right thing to do.

To my way of thinking, the transgender community now is like the odd smaller child who has been mercilessly bullied by old and larger children for years until finally one day he comes to school with a baseball bat and waits around the corner for those bullies to try to beat him up again. He stands and he waits, knowing that the moment those bullies try to throw that first punch again, he's going for the home run swing to the head. He sees his tormentors coming down the street, he grips his bat tightly and waits for the punch to the gut he knows is coming...

What happens next? Well, that's up to folks in Congress. You want to be friends now? You want us to trust you? Why should we? We have dozens upon dozens of reasons not to believe anything you say, but what credible reason have we been given to believe you're worthy of our trust?

You're still too scared to even mention us by name in the Party platform and somehow you think that kind of political cowardice is going gain you the trust of a minority group you've treated like crap now for decades? I mean, you have to be kidding, right?

Trust needs to be justified with action. Words are not enough because they never have been. If you're ready to treat us like equals, Congress, then prove it. Don't talk about it, do it. Since you've long since lost the right to expect the benefit of the doubt, it's the only way most of us are going to take you seriously when you say you support us.

As a writer and a radio host, I know that words can and do matter. As an activist and political observer, I know that words coming from politicians mean nothing unless they're backed up by action.

We're behind that fence now Congress, gripping our bat, pulling back to swing, waiting for the bullies to reach the corner...and here you come. We're ready for you, and so are our big strong friends standing behind us, ready to jump in and hurt you like you've hurt us, over and over and over. The real question is: Are you ready for us?

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Thanks for sharing these stats, Rebecca. You make a very strong argument.

Come on, now. Don't hold back and sugar-coat it. Tell us how you really feel.

Hi Robecca. Remember me? Slaughter House. Here is my take on this.

A Graphic Transgender Commentary on HRC

HRC, the self-proclaimed (but unfortunately quite bogus) representatives of the Transgender Community is now definitely WAY into the pursuit of the Trans dollar. With their so-called "Win Back" program, HRC tacitly screams out loud that they cannot operate without our Green Backs. It’s just a plain fact of economics. After ditching us last Fall, they have come to realize that they’ve created a nightmare that they did not initially foresee. By this cavalier, exclusionary act, they grossly underestimated the strength and determination of the Transgender Community. While at the table of negotiations they willingly failed to represent us. To them we must be just a Society of uneducated, expendable individuals - fit only for exploitation at their convenience!

In the Fall of 2007, HRC dashed our hopes of equality yet again. Their "fearless leader", Joe Solmonese, even made a Big Ass of himself in Atlanta with his promises and reassurances that HRC would not leave the Transgender Community behind. His speech at the Southern Comfort Convention was nothing more than a HRC crowd-pleaser which he set forth only to tell us much later on that it was merely a negotiation strategy slip-up. "Don't worry, we will come back for you...", goes the damage control spin line from "Judas" Joe. Uh-huh - sure! Now that is a classic crock of shit. Kind of like snipe hunting, huh? Here - hold this bag...

HRC cares nothing about you or anyone else - especially if you’re Transgender. It’s job security for Joe and his staff at HRC Headquarters in Washington DC. Your money is the source of survival to them. Without Trans dollars it’s a death sentence for HRC. No money - No pay. Think about it. With our support from the LGB community we are finally being taken seriously. It has been evident at the recent HRC Galas. We are now causing damage to the HRC's war chest. Lack of attendance at their fundraisers is blatantly apparent- and HRC is in a state of panic. They are scared of losing their "Big Kid on the Block" status in DC. lol! (In my opinion, they should be).

Look at it like this, Many of you have been in sales meetings or have worked with companies that are service oriented. One day you lose a key customer, like in this case of HRC losing transgender financial support. What just happened? Your company and you face a future of uncertainty because sales just went to Hell. Without money to function, the company starts to die. The desperation sets in. Your company tries to rebound with promises, but fails. Well HRC - look out! You are about to see your Dissipation light.

HRC is so arrogant that they forgot the basics of business. Like the old saying, "The customer is always right". Well in this case HRC (as you did in years past) - you ripped our clothes off and fucked us. Well HRC - no more! I, for one, like to be kissed before I get fucked. I must have been asleep... wake me when you’re done. Does HRC think we are their harem of whores? Well never again - you ran out of chances! Now they have resorted to beating us up and having us arrested. Next thing you know they will be shaving our heads and gassing us.

HRC has brought this on itself. Not Congress. Not the Transphobic Barney Frank. The incompetence of the HRC Board of Directors did. It was HRC's job to educate the Congressional committee about the importance of a Trans-inclusive ENDA. Instead, they botched it like a six year old trying to jack off for the first time. The millions of dollars wasted by HRC is a crime. Joe should be butt Fucked without lubrication!

The Transgender Community can come together and excel forward. It just takes guidance from the right leadership. We must come together and trust each other again. This is our only salvation. We must not wither. If we do, we are dead in the water. I say let’s move on and forget about wasting our energy on HRC. Either we should seek out another organization or form our own. But let’s move on.

In closing, the one of many things that scares me about HRC is their desperation. Desperation to survive can hurt us and rip us apart from within. HRC recruits our up-coming young transgender advocates for an easy lay. They think by doing this they can discredit our elders. Not a chance! With age and experience comes wisdom. We will never let them gain a foothold on us again. Three chances is enough!

Janice Covington Allison

While HRC certainly did betray trans people, their big mistake was thumbing their nose at the whole TBLG community. They did this, and they have not backed down. The issue is not between trans people and the GLB community, but between the community and HRC. The reason is that while the leaders of HRC like and need the money, what motivates them is power. They are the big boys at the table, and you (I) do not know what you are talking about, because you were not there. They do not have to listen to us because we were not there. With luck I (we) will never get to the table and they can be the "in" crowd forever. The them and us is clearly between HRC leadership and the rest of the community. Remember HR 3685 was not only "non-inclusive" it was impotent. It was a bill that protected no one, or almost no one.

On the issue of counting votes: once you excise the film-flammery, how many solid votes for a good ENDA are there, members who would reliably vote "aye" in support of an effective, but non-inclusive, bill, but would finally refuse to vote for an inclusive one (such as H.R. 2015)?

Remove those who would like to sabotage the whole project. After they have neutered the bill, they will kill it, unless it is so useless as to serve as a vaccine against an effective law.

Remove those (probably HRC) who would keep the issue on the table to boost their income and importance.

Remove those who think it is the right thing to do but are afraid (almost certainly without reason) of their constituents.

Remove those who will vote for the bill, but would love to make their own lives easier by compromising. (Remove them from the conversation, but count their votes.)

We need a hard count. Will you support, in every way, a solid, inclusive ENDA (HR 2015 will do nicely), or not. For those who say no, or waver, serious educational lobbying is in order. The statistics cited above, and so many others, clearly show that this country is past this issue. The people may be confused by flim-flam artists. They may not care as much as we would like, but they do not support discrimination and meanness. The few who wake up each morning with nothing better to do than torment their neighbor are clearly in the minority and our politicians should be reminded of that fact, clearly and often.

Usually, if you want to know the popular sentiments, you would consult a politician. After all, it is their job to understand their constituents. From my experience with the City County Council of Indianapolis/Marion County, and the Indiana State Legislature, I am convinced that most elected politicians in this country at this moment are about the most out of touch people on the planet. That may account for their popularity ratings. I have every reason to suspect that our congressional representatives are no better (probably much worse).

Yes, Barack Obama is a messenger of hope. The real problem is that the Democratic Congressional leadership routinely marks such messages "Return To Sender" when they concern LGBT people, and especially transgender people.

I have a feeling too that the Democratic Congress, if Barack is elected, will suddenly find its spine and stand up to the president. Funny how that always works against people's rights.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | September 8, 2008 8:50 PM

Alex, you're becoming as cynical as me! :-)

Rebecca, excellent post! In a fair world, the stats here would inspire politicians, political parties, and activists to do the right thing, stand up to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA, and put the lie to the falsehoods circulating about the acceptance of LGBT folks in the workplace.

I wish I wasn't so cynical, but unfortunately I don't believe Barney Frank, the HRC, and other likeminded individuals will let these statistics dissuade them from their strongly held preconceived notions.