Sunday, March 29, 2009

HRC Revisionism--from Washington Blade

HRC rewriting ENDA history?

HRC’s board released a statement this week affirming that it would not support a “gay-only” version of ENDA.

“It’s the policy of HRC that the organization will only support an inclusive ENDA,” says the statement. “In 2007 House leadership informed us that there were insufficient votes to pass an inclusive bill, so they decided to vote on a sexual orientation only bill. 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.

“We will not support such a strategy again.”

HRC spokesperson Trevor Thomas said the policy is not new.

“The statement is 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,” Thomas said.

That’s not quite right. Back in 2007, HRC did the right thing in (tacitly) supporting an important piece of pro-gay legislation. At the time, HRC said it wasn’t supporting gay-only ENDA, it just was not opposing it. HRC was predictably slammed for its seemingly wishy-washy stance, but the reality, of course, is that this country has a long history of incremental civil rights gains and opposing a gay rights bill would have put HRC at odds with supportive lawmakers who were championing the bill.

More here.

My take: I'll believe it when I see it. And even then, there are a lot of organizations that are far more worthwhile to support. An acquaintance wanted to know which ones actually give a damn about helping people of color and fully inclusive legislation as well as championing those issues that are most important to trans people (and many of them also have some bearing on LGB-identified people as well, such as health care). I sent her the following brief list, and I do not claim that this is an exhaustive or complete list:

American Civil Liberties Union: Say what you want about some of their more controversial cases, the ACLU has been around for a long time and they have the added perk of, y'know, actually having a backbone. I suppose it's because they don't have any corporate overlords to worry about pissing off and they're used to pissing off people anyway.
National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce: Don't let the name fool you, they have consistently supported a fully inclusive ENDA and they are concerned about that little thing called intersectionality.
Lambda Legal: see above
National Black Justice Coalition: Very important organization, especially when one considers that whole intersectionality thing and many orgs' massive blind spot when it comes to trans and LGB issues wrt people of color.
Queers for Economic Justice: Admittedly, I had not heard of them until I posed the aforementioned query to a friend of mine who's been active for a lot longer than I have.

As for local, Mid-South organizations, I'm a big fan of The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, has done a lot more when it comes to POC and LGB & T issues than the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, who couldn't even be bothered to issue a press release after Leeneshia Edwards was shot. But their chili cookoff was such groundbreaking news that it was promptly included in their next weekly email?

To be fair, many of the people at the MGLCC mean well. The same could be said of the people in charge of the local Tennessee Equality Project chapter. But what they consistently refuse to concede is that class matters. It shouldn't, but when you're so goddamn afraid of the word 'prostitute' and sex work in general and you're so wrapped up in your belief that the police are always your friends, all they need is a little sensitivity training and everything will be copacetic and that because prostitution is illegal, prostitutes are just getting what's coming to them when they get arrested, it is more of a hindrance than any Republican politician around here. It's at least remotely possible to work around the Repubs. On the other hand, working with obstinately ignorant 'allies' is a lot like trying to drive to Alaska in a Pinto with a faulty radiator. After a few hours or days of stopping to make sure the engine isn't going to blow up, it becomes a lot more trouble than it's worth, even if nothing else goes wrong with the car. But it probably will because it's a POS car anyway.

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