Will HRC put its money where its mouth is?
By Melanie Nathan, April 1, 2013
Thousands of LGBT community members and allies showed up at the steps of SCOTUS this past week to support marriage equality, and many were there because of the extraordinary organizing efforts of a coalition of LGBT organizations under the title, ‘United for Marriage,’ which included The Human Rights Campaign (HRC). As reported here on this BLOG, on Friday, HRC got themselves into hot water with the greater LGBT community over two incidents which occurred at last week’s Supreme Court rallies. ( See “Activists ‘seeing red’ over HRC antics at SCOTUS hearings”)
What followed was a blanket apologizing statement from the United For Marriage coalition, followed by HRC’s own individual statement denying any wrong doing. Following what many have termed years of similar misdeeds, the weak HRC statement, which sought to deflect responsibility, only provoked more of an outcry and finally yesterday they took responsibility for their part in the incident and issued this public apology:
“In the midst of a tremendously historic week for our community, two unfortunate incidents at the United for Marriage event at the Supreme Court last week have caused pain in the community. In one case, a trans activist was asked to remove the trans pride flag from behind the podium, and in another, a queer undocumented speaker was asked to remove reference to his immigration status in his remarks.
HRC joined in a coalition statement on Friday apologizing for these incidents and the individuals involved have personally offered their apologies to those affected. But to be perfectly clear, HRC regrets the incidents and offers our apologies to those who were hurt by our actions. We failed to live up to the high standard to which we hold ourselves accountable and we will strive to do better in the future. Through both our legislative and programmatic work, HRC remains committed to making transgender equality a reality.”
The apology now stands on the record and should also serve as an admission, by an organization that rests on a culture which has been perceived by many as one of exclusivity, so clearly displayed in the attitude of staffers, who perpetuated exclusion through the symbol of a waving flag and the censorship of the speech of two prominent activists.
If HRC has sincerely faced the music, now would be the time to ‘put their money where their mouth is’ with action behind their words, decisive inclusion, through a push for inclusiveness at the very core of their advocacy, by lending their resources to other ongoing battles in our community.
For this apology to mean anything at all, HRC must now stretch well beyond the linear whitewash, its self appointed entitlement – it is not all about marriage equality, color-changing logos, T-Shirts and celebrity impressions! Most of us in the community are unimpressed. We see the suffering – all of it – and we barely hear from HRC on any of it.
Perhaps the GetEQUAL board member who was one of those directly impacted by one of the incidents and who we are informed is accepting the HRC apology can now call on HRC to back it up with specific actions:
HRC, which has over a million members and a lot of money to bobble around ought to be leading on every issue impacting the LGBTQI community, leaving no one and nothing out.
As a fully inclusive community our demands are nothing less than federal worker equality in employment, a fully inclusive ENDA, working all same-sex binational couple and queer issues in comprehensive immigration reform, direct advocacy on every level with transgender public accommodations laws, trans medical coverage, the staggering homeless queer youth epidemic, and of course the ultimate benchmark – setting at the very least the goal, a push for legislation for full equality.
HRC it is now time to climb down off the throne and join your subjects – its not all about the glamor issues only, so deliberately displayed on your issues page! Let this be a lesson that if you fail to hammer away, equally, at the less ‘glamorous’ issues, then Karma will provide more such revealing incidents, and you will lose your standing in the very community that held you up for all these years.
We demand equality, first and foremost from our own, failing which, how can we expect to find it elsewhere?
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