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HRC & Leading Democrats Betray Trans People, And In So Doing, Our Entire Movement

Copy of a Letter Sent by Some GLNers to the Editor of the Chicago Free Press. We hope that it gets published in the issue coming out this week.

To the Editor:

The betrayal of the Transgender community over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by HRC's national leadership, working with leading Democrats like Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi, is now a fact established beyond a reasonable doubt. A few weeks ago at the same time that HRC's Joe Solmonese was assuring a Trans audience at the Atlanta, Georgia Southern Comfort Conference that he opposed an ENDA which didn't include protections for Trans people, HRC lobbyists were working for a Trans-free ENDA.

While our press has focused on HRC's role in this betrayal, it has given almost no attention to the truly main players in this game – The Democratic Party. If no one expected ENDA to pass the Senate, let alone be signed into law by Bush, why were the Dem's so hell bent on passing a House version of ENDA, ANY ENDA, even though it was going to die the moment it left the House?

The reason goes to the heart of the dysfunctional relationship our community has with political parties in general. Barney Frank and others wanted to make a show of passing ENDA in the House so that they could serve it up as a PR point for whoever wins the Democratic presidential nomination for 2008. The argument will be that however bad the Democratic nominee is (all of the leading candidates oppose our legal equality), at least s/he is a little better than whatever Darth Vader candidate the Republicans nominate.

The fact that the Democrats think we're so craven for recognition that we'll settle for a hugely flawed ENDA shows how little respect the party has for us. It also shows that they think we have such little self-respect that they thought we would fall for this.

Our national organizations, and many local organizations, rather than fighting Democratic Party anti-gay gestures, have largely become adjuncts of that party, willing puppets who court ego-boosting recognition, access and employment. That is why Barack Obama thought he could get away with featuring "ex-gay" bigot Donnie McClurkin in his South Carolina campaign, and after mild protest, thought we would be mollified by McClurkin being "balanced" by a gay preacher hastily added to the program. It's like saying it's okay to feature a White Citizens Council member in your campaign, so long as he's "balanced" by an anti-racist voice. Simply posing the completely improbable analogy shows just how far our community and its leaders have to go in forcing politicians of all parties to respect us.

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass once famously said that "Power concedes nothing without a demand. Never has, never will." Until we start demanding better treatment from politicians, and punishing those who don't pony up, we'll continue to get crappy ENDA's and campaigns that suck in our donations while giving us back next to nothing, if not worse.

Please don't give money to HRC. Don't attend the upcoming HRC Chicago fundraiser on February 2, 2008. Do join Gay Liberation Network outside the Sears Tower at 6 PM to protest HRC.


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