In what I view as a short-sighted hissy fit, the last two transgendered members of HRC's Business Council have resigned. Highlights of their resignation letter are set out below. More information is available on the issue at Pam's House Blend (http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3771). For the record, Pam and I do NOT agree on the issue of an all or nothing approach to ENDA and have exchanged arguments with each other. As I have stated numerous times, I am all for transgendered protections (I have transgendered clients), but that does not mean one throws away the chance for LGB protections if a fully inclusive version of ENDA is simply not politically possible at this point in time. Based on 13 years of political activism, I believe that sometimes an incremental approach is the only realistic approach. The fact that Tammy Baldwin pulled her amendment before a potentially devastating vote on the re-addition of transgendered protections could occur speaks volumes to me.
Also, like it or not, HRC has to answer to ALL of its members. The Advocate poll showed that some 67% of those responding supported an incremental approach if that is what was possible as a political reality. By leaving HRC, and starting a new organization, these individuals are very likely setting their cause back further. HRC is a well know commodity in Washington. A new organization will have a whole new learning curve to surmount with legislators. In any event, the following are highlights of the resignation letter:
Recent HRC policy decisions - to actively support a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that excludes our transgender brothers and sisters as well as gender-variant lesbian, gay, and bisexual people - have placed us in an untenable position. On November 8, the day after the ENDA vote in the House of Representatives, we requested an opportunity to meet personally with HRC President Joe Solmonese to share our concerns and to discuss HRC's strategy for addressing recent legislative shortcomings before making a decision to stay or go. As the only transgender representatives on the Business Council our community expects us to have some influence, or at least to receive the courtesy of a consultation. Almost 3 weeks have passed since that request and we have heard nothing in response. This lack of response speaks volumes, so we feel compelled to take this stand today.
We are announcing our resignations from the HRC Business Council, effective immediately. Considering recent broken promises, the lack of credibility that HRC has with the transgender community at large, and HRC's apparent lack of commitment to healing the breach it has caused, we find it impossible to maintain an effective working relationship with the organization.
Since we cannot in good conscience continue these critical efforts in the name of HRC through its Business Council, we will be forming an organization whose sole purpose is to provide ongoing education on transgender issues for businesses, governmental agencies, NGOs, and educational institutions.
I sincerely wish them luck in their new endeavor, even though I believe that they are cutting off their noses to spit their face. The legislative process is often messy, uneven, and requires the taking of what is possible over what is the ultimate goal. Had HRC adopted an all or nothing approach on ENDA, it would no doubt be faced with even larger defections. I for one would have been furious with the HRC leadership had it insisted on an all or none version of ENDA.