Adam Polaski

'On the Road' with the Human Rights Campaign

Filed By Adam Polaski | July 28, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: bus tour, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, LGBT, LGBT civil rights, On the Road to Equality, Tennessee

HRC logoEarlier this week the Human Rights Campaign announced plans to launch an "On the Road to Equality" bus tour that will visit areas of the country where the LGBT community continues to face significant roadblocks. The HRC plans to visit 17 different cities in 11 different states (plus Washington, D.C.). Once in those cities, the organization seems to have vague plans to "hold a variety of events." According to the press release announcing the tour:

The bus will be accompanied by an exhibit offering primers on everyday life topics including: your family, your health, your rights, your community, your faith, your workplace and your story. Separate from the bus, HRC will also offer a variety of workshops and educational seminars with particular emphasis on workplace and healthcare equality, schools and bullying issues and religion and faith.

Aside from Washington, D.C., the 11 states represented by the tour all lack state-wide LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, and none allow for relationship recognition.

24 additional states that the HRC will not be visiting still lack state-wide LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws. 6 only cover sexual orientation, and 18 have no statewide nondiscrimination laws for sexual orientation or gender identity & expression. Among the states in the latter category is Tennessee, which recently saw a number of anti-LGBT encounters and legislation.

The organization's president, Joe Solmonese, said the tour was an important step for the HRC's attempts to further its mission. He said:

We are in the midst of a cultural tipping point on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and our job is to push the scale as far and as fast as we can toward fairness. The tour will serve as a powerful visibility tool and support the work of creating real and lasting change in these communities.

Here is the full line-up of the HRC's "On the Road to Equality" tour, which kicks off in Salt Lake City in August:

Aug 12-14 Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 19-21 Omaha & Lincoln, NE
Aug 26-28 Lawrence, KS & Kansas City, MO
Sept 1-5 New Orleans, LA
Sept 9-11 Austin & College Station, TX
Sept 16-18 Little Rock, AR
Sept 23-25 Louisville & Lexington, KY
Sept 30-Oct 3 Washington, DC
Oct 7-9 Atlanta, GA
Oct 14-16 Birmingham & Tuscaloosa, AL
Oct 21-23 Jacksonville, FL
Oct 28-30 Orlando, FL

Update: This post has been updated since its original publication. The piece initially reported that 18 additional states do not include nondiscrimination policies, but this only includes states with no LGBT nondiscrimination laws at all. 6 additional states only cover sexual orientation but not gender identity & expression.

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So, HRC will be here in Atlanta Oct 7-9. I guess I'll have to warn . . .ah, I mean let the community know.

Color me cautiously optimistic. The concept is a good one, but I'll wait and see what the actual content and level of inclusion are before making a final judgment.

I just found out that they will be here on Pride weekend for Atlanta. Lots of gay people means lots of $$$. Ask me if I'm surprised.

Kathy Padilla | July 28, 2011 2:17 PM

I look forward to them visiting Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Delaware, New York, Wisconsin and Maryland. All of which do not have inclusive nondiscrimination laws. You seem to have miss counted these as they are listed in that chart as having nondiscrimination laws covering sexual orientation alone. So - no inclusive nondiscrim laws.

You're right, Kathy. Sorry! Misread the chart. The post has been corrected to reflect the accurate numbers. Good catch.

I lived in several of these Southern cities. I grew up in one. I still believe home grown activists will change minds, not folks bussed in from DC.

It reminds me of a line for the movie "M*A*S*H" where Hawkeye and Trapper John fly in to help the General (or was it his son) and they called themselves, "The pros from Dover." They knew how to fix the problem better than anyone else.

That's HRC's arrogant attitude. They think they know how to "fix the problem" better than anyone else. Their only purpose is to make more money for the things they never really fix. After all, if they fixed everything, then no one would have a reason to give them money. They are probably the prime reason we aren't further along with our rights.

FrankInSFO | July 29, 2011 5:45 AM

I don't read anywhere where HRC is trying to fix anything. As far as I can tell and from what I've read, it's educational and providIng assistance so individuals can take action. That can be most effective when there is an audience. And, guess what? You don't have to go, you don't have to listen, and you don't have to agree. But, for crying out loud, give it a rest because there are tens of thousands who need and want information and assistance.

Lastly, whether this initiative is to raise money or not, why is that a problem? The opposition have over five times the financial resources than the LGBT advocacy organizations. Is it so wrong to try to increase the membership? There is power in numbers. We can take a lesson from the far-right and the gun lobby organization. They band and fight together very effectively whereas we continue to have infighting and see who can knock down whomever first. It's time we grew up or our movement will take that much longer to achieve things that are so fundamental.

If you got screwed over by the same organization for at least 15 years, through 4 ExDirs and hundreds different staff members, you would think different. If you saw your rights squashed for 15 years by the same group, you would see it different. If you have seen them come into you state and suck up limited funds that should go to the local organizations, you would see it different. If your local groups get turned down for funds (that they took out of the state) for their issues, you wouldn't be so quick to condemn. If your national organization cannot even get $1000 to help veterans, then you wouldn't be saying this. When you find out that your lobbying efforts on the Hill are turned around by them coming in and telling Congress members not to listen to the trans activists then you would finally understand. When their ED comes to the largest trans gathering in the country, tells us they would support a fully inclusive ENDA ONLY, then goes back on that two weeks later, then you give it a rest.

I have a whole list of things to add to this, but I have to go to work. "Give it a rest?" I don't F-word think so. There is no rest when you are facing hypocrites and liars.

No Tennessee visits, and the visit to Louisville will be preaching to the choir. Louisville has a city-wide SO-inclusive non-discrimination policy and the mayor just extended domestic partner benefits to city workers. It would also be nice to see them go to Frankfort, the actual capital of KY, to hopefully catch the attention of legislators.

Will there be more of a trans focus in the cities with SO-inclusive non-discrimination policies? I guess we'll find out, but I'm not holding my breath.

Gee, NOM did a bus tour not too long ago. How'd that work out for them? (Your membership dollars at work!)

Gee, I see Louisville and Lexington on this itinerary ... I'm delighted they included those Kentucky cities, but where is Cincinnati, Ohio? Does anyone at HRC realize that Lexington to Cincinnati is less than one hundred miles? Or that it does not take five days to get from Lexington to Washington DC if you travel more than two hours per day at 60 MPH?

Where is Indianapolis on this schedule? On the map, Indy is about 120 miles from Louisville (I'm sure of this, I drive it about twice a month). Does anyone at HRC know that LGBT Hoosiers have been fighting a perennial battle against DOMA-style state constitutional amendments virtually ever since Lawrence v. Texas? Apparently, yet another such amendment would not be a "significant roadblock" in HRC's view of the world.

Thanks a lot, HRC.

Maybe someone needs to tell HRC that October 11 is National Coming Out Day, I don't see any NCOD events on this schedule, either.