Hating on the HRC
Lots of people have been hating on the HRC lately. At certain times, and in certain venues, I have been one of them. But I think it is important to treat the HRC the same way we should treat anything else in life: take the good that it has to offer reject the bad. Keep the baby when you throw out the bath water.
So, in an effort to clarify my own thinking as much as anything, here is my current take on details of the HRC's involvement in the fission of ENDA:
- HRC would love to see ENDA pass with gender identity coverage. I may catch a lot of flak from other transgender individuals for saying this, but I honestly believe it to be true. While I have many questions and concerns about the HRC's behavior, I do believe that they would like to see solutions to the same problems the larger community wants to address. This is an incredibly important point to remember, because while their strategy and their level of commitment are all up for question, they do at least want what the rest of us want. However…
- HRC would rather send a non-inclusive ENDA to the white House as soon as possible than wait until an inclusive ENDA can be passed. Many people have read the somewhat delayed updates from the HRC and asked, “Why are we still angry? They support us now, right?” Well, yes and no. See the previous bullet for the “yes.” As for the “no”, it is important to note that the HRC has NOT said that it opposes the passage of a non-inclusive ENDA, and in fact, has specifically stated that it DOES NOT oppose such an outcome. Furthermore, while it is making impassioned pleas to rally the troops in support of inclusion, Joe Solmonese is actively trying to recruit visible transgender figures to support a non-inclusive ENDA. So when the brief reprieve runs out, if a few weeks of lobbying hasn't won enough support for inclusion, the HRC is going to do exactly what it started to do at the beginning of this mess: push for the passage of a non-inclusive ENDA. The only choices that HRC sees are “inclusive ENDA now” or “non-inclusive ENDA now”, and there's no option for “inclusive ENDA after a few more months or years of lobbying.”
- HRC appears to have actively interfered with opposition to its run for a non-inclusive ENDA. According to a diary post here on PHB, the HRC actively prevented other members of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights from opposing the ENDA split. Only after “extreme pressure” was brought to bear did the HRC apparently relent and allow fellow LCCR members to openly oppose its approach to ENDA.
- HRC's actions are inconsistent with its public statements. Joe Solmonese has been seen (and videotaped) making public statements associating the HRC with other movements who have refused to pass non-inclusive legislation and explicitly stating that the HRC will oppose non-inclusive legislation. Now that the rubber has hit the road, the HRC explicitly DOES NOT oppose non-inclusive legislation. Whatever the reason – whether it was intentional deception or incompetent speaking – the result is a serious credibility loss for the organization.
- HRC appears to be charting its course based on the desires of politicians rather than the LGBT community. After making several statements over the years supporting a gender identity inclusive ENDA, the HRC is now willing to drop gender identity coverage after Congress members Frank and Pelosi decided to take that route. While some people in the LGBT community appear to favor this approach, there is an apparent groundswell of overwhelming community support for keeping gender identity in ENDA. At face value, this puts the HRC in the position of prioritizing the wishes of politicians over the wishes of its own constituent community… a somewhat interesting approach to social activism.