HRC Finally Ready to Back Trans-Inclusive ENDA


Ladies and gentlemen, the Human Rights Campaign has found its balls! Or its soul. Or its voice. After promising its own donors and the gay community it would only back a transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and then backtracking on its own guarantee, HRC’s board now says it will support only an ENDA measure that includes protections for transgender folks. Flip-flop-flip?

Back in 2007, when the U.S. Congress was seriously considering ENDA legislation, reps told HRC they didn’t have enough votes to pass a trans-inclusive ENDA. So, HRC now says, “we made a one-time exception to our policy in 2007 because we strongly believed that supporting this vote would do more to advance inclusive legislation.” But now that Democrats control both legislatures and the White House is inhabited by a man who supposed supports gay rights? “We will not support such a strategy again,” HRC says.

Huh. Because it was this time last year that HRC president Joe Solmonese was defending the organization’s decision — which it now seems to regret, or at least flip-flopped on — to back ENDA without trans protections. Speaking in front of a crowd at HRC’s annual dinner, Solmonese first had to get through a picket line of protesters, criticizing the world’s largest gay rights advocacy organization (their claim, not ours) for turning its back on the transgender community. And all the New York politicos usually in attendance at HRC events? Even the openly gay ones? They all, curiously, skipped this one.

“I understand and I hear every day that some members of our community are feeling forgotten or left behind. It is easy to understand why,” Solmonese said at the 1,000-person event, adding, “We have to overlook our differences and we have got to see instead of our individual wants and immediate desires — a vision for the America that we all want to live in.”

Already Solmonese has been forced to apologize for HRC backtracking the first time it said it would only support a trans-inclusive ENDA legislation. He blamed it on “misspeaking.”

HRC spokesperson Trevor Thomas tells the Washington Blade the just-issued statement is just “a reiteration of our current policy and should not be portrayed as new or a shift — this has always been our policy and is a clarification considering what happened in 2007.”

Sure it is. So long as HRC’s “policy” has always been to make promises, go back on them, and then try to keep those promises all along. We’re not saying HRC’s new — sorry, “reiterated” — policy is a bad one. It isn’t! They should be lauded for supporting a trans-inclusive ENDA.

But for all the frustrated HRC donors and on-lookers who don’t understand how or why the organization turned its back on the “T” in GLBT, this “clarification” does little to soothe their anger.