NTAC, Transgenders and Allies To Picket Over ENDA Betrayal

Posted on 10/04/2007. Filed under: ENDA, human rights campaign, transgender rights |

The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition is issuing a call to join our
members, members of other organizations and numerous individuals in
protesting the lavish October 6th annual HRC National Dinner in
Washington, DC. Representative Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, will
be featured as keynote speaker at the event.

Last week, after a hastily called “whip count” (where the majority party
whip polls members of committees or Congress to gauge whether
legislation has sufficient votes), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) stripped
Gender Identity from the original bill. This action was allegedly based on
the results of as yet unsubstantiated claims of not having enough support
for trans-inclusion.

Recently, Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights
(NCLR) authored and circulated a letter signed by more than 150 different
state and national organizations and submitted to House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi petitioning for a return to one inclusive bill for the Employment Non
Discrimination Act (ENDA), HR 2015 in its inclusive form.

From this effort has come a new ad-hoc campaign: United ENDA, the new
collective of over 150 organizations (www.unitedenda.org) that have
agreed to the principles of explicitly inclusive legislation submitted to
Congress.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which claims to be the largest U.S.
LGBT civil rights organization, has not signed onto an endorsement of
the statement signed by the members of United ENDA, opposing the split
of the proposed bill into separate legislation – one for sexual orientation
and one for gender identity.

“We are very disappointed and angry that any civil rights organization
claiming to advocate for our rights can turn their backs on us when the
going gets tough,” said Ethan St.Pierre, Board Chair of NTAC. “It
amounts to a betrayal, since HRC earlier promised to support only an
inclusive ENDA.”

At the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) in mid-September, HRC Exec.
Director, Joe Solmonese made a promise as keynote speaker that HRC
would not only support an inclusive ENDA bill, but would also oppose
any attempt at submitting a non-inclusive bill. While at SCC, HRC culled
many new memberships and donations from the transgender community.
“After removing gender identity from a bill that would have protected
millions of transgender Americans from discrimination in employment, the
message being sent to the entire Congress and to corporate America is
that it is acceptable to discriminate against transgender, intersexed, and
other gender variant Americans,” NTAC Chair, St. Pierre added.

As a result of HRC’s rescission of their promise three weeks earlier, the
only transgender ever seated on their Board of Directors, Donna Rose,
resigned October 2, 2007 in disappointment. Additional resignations from
the transgender community are continuing to come in, including Robbi
Cohn resigning from HRC’s steering committee for the Carolinas.

In Rose’s resignation, she stated, “The relationship between HRC and the
transgender community is one scarred by betrayal, distrust, and anger. I
have become a focal point for much of that frustration,” she noted, adding
she “accepted that responsibility with the hope that I could help to
change [HRC].”

“I call on other like-minded board members, steering committee leaders,
donors, corporate sponsors, and volunteers to think long and hard about
whether this organization still stands for your values and to take decisive
action.”

All those who stand in solidarity with the transgender community,
including HRC Board members wishing to make a statement, are
welcome to join us on Saturday, October 6th at 4:30 p.m. before the Major
Donors Reception. The picketing will continue throughout the General
Reception and Banquet.

“We want to ensure people note that this is a non-violent protest, and that we should avoid working to our detriment by being profane or verbally

attacking,” said NTAC Media Director, Vanessa Edwards Foster. “Icy
glares and stone cold silence work well.

“Bring out your unequal signs and let HRC and Barney Frank know that
we’re quite aware of what they think of us.”

The event will take place at the Washington Convention Center, 801
Mount Vernon Place, NW (near 9th St & Mass Ave) Washington DC. For
those coming in from outside of the city, this is on the Green Line at the
Mount Vernon Square / UCC stop.

Founded in 1999, NTAC – the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition –
is a grassroots civil rights organization working to establish and maintain
the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to
live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.

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