February 28, 2008
HRC lays a Pink Brick
Posted by: Chris
The Human Rights Campiagn is taking hits on both coasts for its decision to support Barney Frank's gay-only version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In both cases, the extremism of the critics only reinforces how removed these intolerant ideological purists are from the real lives of lesbian and gay Americans.
In New York, local politicians stayed away in droves from the annual HRC black-tie dinner, honoring a protest by transgender activists and others outside the banquet hall. In response, HRC Prez Joe Solmonese took to the podium and did what he's best at doing, lowering expectations:
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," he said. "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.
A year or two? ENDA came within a vote of passing the Senate in 1996. It's now more than a decade later, and it's still mired in limbo despite overwhelming public support and Democrats in control of both houses of Congress.
In San Francisco, the local Pride group has nominated HRC for its "Pink Brink Award," an ignominious honor that according to the Bay Area Reporter is "meant to recognize groups and individuals who've run afoul of the community or pushed for antigay measures." This year's other nominees, to given you some sense of this silliness, are Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Keep in mind that not only does HRC support transgender workplace rights (and inclusion in the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act), but also pressed with unusual vigor for House Democrats to keep "gender identity" as a part of ENDA. HRC backed Frank's gay-only version after the legendary Massachusetts Democrat concluded the votes were nowhere close to passing the trans-inclusive version. Even Tammy Baldwin, the trans activists' idol in the House, voted for Barney's gay-only version.
Also keep in mind that after the House vote, HRC's Joe Solmonese reiterated that HRC will continue to oppose sending to the president any version of ENDA that doesn't include transgender protections. Now maybe that (ill-conceived) promise rings hollow since Solmonese had walked away from an earlier (ill-conceived) promise never to support any version of ENDA that wasn't trans-inclusive, but it hardly puts him in Ahmadinejad territory.
But such is the arrogance of ideological purists -- whether of the Ahmadinejad variety or his San Francisco foil -- that any slight divergence from orthodoxy is heresy and equally condemnatory.
(Joe Solmonese photo via Bay Area Reporter/Rick Gerharter)
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